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Ichimatsu Sanogawa III as Onayo the prostitute at Gion cho and Tomiemon Ichikawa as Toma Kanizaka

Ichimatsu Sanogawa III as Onayo the prostitute at Gion cho and Tomiemon Ichikawa as Toma Kanizaka

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In his first period of his life, Shayaku drew five top-over two-object portraits. This is one of them illustrated two people appeared in a kyogen play entitled “HanaAyame Bunroku Soga”. In these top-over portraits, Shayaku always uses contrast. In this portrait, Syaraku contrasts thinner face of Ichimatsu Sanogawa and round face of Tomiemon Ichikawa; and furthermore slanting eye-blow of Ichimatsu and Tomiemon, also Ichimatsu’s triangular eyes and Tomiemon’s round eyes. In this way, he adds variety into the portrait. At a glance, this portrait depicts two people together unintentionally; however, as he does this has some unique contrast. There is another portrait that draws Onayo alone. In this portrait, people should look into the depiction of Tomiemon. Toma Kanizaka is a kind of a villain and unimportant character. Tomiemon shows some upper lower class appearance in him, that has interesting contrast with Onayo’s gaily apperance, who is a prostitute of Ichimatsu’s, in the screen. Ichimatsu Sanogawa III was very popular as young actor who played females role at the time. Ichimatsu the first wore flagstone pattern ( what we call genroku pattern), which became popular during the era. He also made the Ichimatsu pattern famous.

 

 

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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