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A Maid Otsuyu of Yonezaburo Matusmoto

A Maid Otsuyu of Yonezaburo Matusmoto

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This picture depicts Otsuyu, a maid of Uonezaburo Matsumoto’s who appears, “Yomono Nishiki Kokyono Tabiji” a kirikyogen (last piece in a kabuki programme) featured by Kiriza Theater in August, 1794 (Kanei 6). The play was a well-known joint suicide kyogen of Chikamatsu style by Chubee Sakuragawa. This role appeared when Chuubee of Shinmachi Izutsuya embezzled the collected deliverer fee. This picture is the best or second excellent work among the small sized works during the second period of his life. A combination of some triangles creates the structure of the object person: that represents Sharaku’s unique three-dimensional beauty. Also, there is no over stroke, Sharaku depicts the three-dimensional structure naturally: these express Sharaku’s arts of width and thickness. Rouge colored kimono and black hem and obi belt harmonize well with yellowish background and maximizes the thickness. A light blue of hanging color of underwear kimono also provides significant tone.

Yonezaburo Matsumoto was born as a son of Ayame Yoshizawa IV, a kabuki actor who played female role. Later he became an apprentice of Koshiro Matsumoto IV and named Yonezaburo Matsumoto. He was popular as young actor playing dfemale role. Along with Tomzaburo Nakayama and Kumezaburo Iwai, he was called “sanpukutsui” (three pieces). Sharaku also illustrated Yonezaburo during the first period of his life.

 

 

Sharaku Toshusai(birth and death dates unknown)

Birth and death dates unknown.

In 1794 (Kansei 6), Sharaku came into sudden prominence, produced more than 140 ukiyo-e paintings during the mere ten months of his activity as an ukiyo-e painter, and then disappeared forever. For his debut work, he used the large, o-ban printing size, and expensive biotitic background printing, which was unusual. Juzaburo Tsutaya, a publisher, enthusiastically promoted Sharaku after Utamaro had left him. Meanwhile, the printing size was getting smaller. One of the major reasons for this was that Sharaku’s way of drawing actors as they were, regardless of their popularity, was not accepted by people of the era. However, each of his portraits is full of energetic impression and gives a positive impact. Because of this, he also received high acclaim from abroad.

 

Selections of Sharaku Toshusai

Sharaku Toshusai(birth and death dates unknown)

One of the reasons why Sharaku’s works are precious is that so few exist. Unfortunately, his art was recognized abroad before it gained popularity in Japan. While the Japanese were blind to his talent, many of the works ended up abroad and were praised. Some of the works were brought back to Japan as part of the Matsukata Collection in 1943 (Showa 18), which increased the number of his popular works in Japan. These forty works were reissued from the collection. Each of them represents one of Sharaku’s great masterpieces.

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