Original Sadahiro II (1838 - 1918) Japanese Woodblock Print
Watonai Waiting for a Signal
Osaka Prints - Produced in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kyoto, Osaka prints or kamigata-e are instantly distinguishable from typical Edo ukiyo-e. A major difference is the choice of subject matter. Osaka prints were nearly always portraits of actors or kabuki scenes. In contrast, Edo print subjects included beauties, landscapes, nature scenes, warriors, and historic events, in addition to kabuki.
Distinctly different artistic styles also emerged in Edo and Osaka in the 18th and 19th century, resulting in certain recognizable characteristics for each area. Osaka prints feature more subtle, serious figures, reflecting the wagoto or soft style of acting prevalent in the area, along with distinctive facial expressions. The aragato or brash manner of acting popular in Edo influenced print designs towards bolder images of heroism and military prowess.
Much like the style of the prints, the demand for ukiyo-e in the cities of Osaka and Edo also varied. Osaka produced far fewer ukiyo-e designs than Edo did. As a consequence, Osaka prints are rarer and also some of the highest quality prints made in the 19th century, with many featuring deluxe techniques such as burnishing or embossing. Osaka prints are a rare and wonderful collecting area of Japanese woodblocks.
Comments - Handsome scene from the kabuki play commonly known as "Kokusen'ya Gassen," the story of the warrior Watonai traveling to China to help restore the Ming Dynasty. Watonai enlists the aid of his half-sister, Kinshojo, to determine if her husband, General Kanki, will assist him with his plan. The beauty was supposed to pour white pigment into the water to signal success, or red pigment indicating failure. Here, Watonai holds a torch high as he waits on a bridge to examine the water below. Unbeknownst to him, the red pigment comes from the beauty's own blood, as she commits suicide for her failure. A great design, beautifully detailed with burnishing on Watonai's robe and black sash, and accents of metallic pigment that have oxidized to a dark tone.
Artist - Sadahiro II (1838 - 1918)
Image Size - 9 3/4" x 21" + top margin as shown
Condition - This print with excellent detail as shown. Three attached panels, backed with paper. Vertical folds between panels. A few small holes, repaired. Slight soiling. Please see photos for details.