Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795) Japanese Woodblock Reprint
Ichikawa Komazo II as Chubei and Nakayama Tomisaburo
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.
Oedo Mokuhansha - These classic designs were produced by the well known Tokyo publisher Oedo Mokuhansha amidst a resurgence of interest in ukiyo-e in the early 1950s. Like many of these traditional businesses, the woodblock print craft was passed down through generations, and the Oedo Mokuhansha company was formed by descendents of an Edo era publisher. These are nice prints of the highest quality standards and an excellent choice if you are looking for fine old woodblock reprints.
Comments - Handsome Sharaku double portrait of the actors Ichikawa Komazo II as Chubei and Nakayama Tomisaburo in the role of the beauty Umegawa in the play "Yomo-no Nishiki Kokyo-no Tabiji." Chubei is a farmer's son who works for a courier firm, who falls in love with the beautiful courtesan Umegawa. Unable to raise the money to redeem her from service, the lovers eventually decide to commit suicide together rather than be parted. In this scene they prepare to leave together, Umegawa kneels with a slender twist of paper to repair a broken sandal strap held delicately between her slender fingers. A pair of sandals and a stack of folded tissues lie on the floor before her. Chubei stands next to her, scowling as he looks over his shoulder, arms firmly folded across his chest. The sword at his side is covered for traveling, and he wears a long brown coat with a black lacquer pattern over his plaid kimono. Wonderful detail in the fabric patterns and expressive faces, with a fine distressed mica background.
Artist - Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Image Size - 14 1/4" x 10 1/8" + margins as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Mica dust in margins, a few creases. Most prints have one or two drying holes in corners. A couple have slight soiling. Please see photos for details. Generally in good condition overall.