Mainichi Shimbun Publisher - From a fine collection of mid-20th century Utamaro reprints published by Mainichi Shimbun. This small Tokyo publisher carved blocks and reprinted many of the great masterwork designs of the Edo era. Their work was exquisite with an emphasis on quality, not quantity. Note the exceptional detail, carefully shaded printing, fine mica backgrounds, embossing, and other deluxe techniques. Mainichi prints are perfect for the collector or for the highest quality reprint for display.
Sharaku - Not much is known about the woodblock print artist Toshusai Sharaku, who specialized in kabuki portraits. His career spanned only ten months from 1794 to 1795, with around 150 prints known. Unlike his contemporaries, Sharaku did not idealize his subjects, instead creating realistic portrayals that were not always flattering, and his prints were not a popular success at the time. His best works convey a rare perceptivity, with a psychological insight and a deep understanding of the dramatic nature of the roles and the actors he depicted. Sharaku left behind a body of masterworks of ukiyo-e kabuki portraiture that remained unrecognized until a century after his death.
Comments - Interesting double portrait of Bando Hikosaburo III as Obiya Choemon and Iwai Hanshiro IV as the young beauty Shinanoya O-Han in a scene from the play "Katsuragawa Tsuki-no Omoide." The middle-aged Choemon is a married merchant who falls in love with the teenaged O-Han, and the pair end up committing suicide together in a lover's pact. Here the beauty waves the flowing sleeves of her kimono gracefully as she kneels at her sweetheart's feet. Her kimono features two shades of soft green patterned with iris, tied with a red tie-dyed obi. Choemon stands by silently, frowning down at the girl, his arms firmly crossed and tucked inside the sleeves of his striped kimono. Nicely detailed with soft color and fine line work, and a distressed mica background.
Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Image Size - 15 1/2" x 9 3/4"
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Please see photos for details. Good overall.