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Komazo Ichikawa II as Shiga Daishichi

Komazo Ichikawa II as Shiga Daishichi

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This portrait depicts the Shiga Daishichi, an antagonist, the play entitled “Adauchi Noriaibanashi” played by Kiri-za Theater in May of 1794. Although this picture’s color tone and structure are simple, this makes us feel strength and impressive. The focal point is his face. A long face with a shapely nose, curved chin, and eyes framed with red, glaring, and gazing eyes from hollowed eyes: these facial features make us feel he is coming towards us. Furthermore, the object takes the sward out of the pocket and takes a pose grabbing the head of the sward, which is effective. The black kimono adds more taste to this portrait. By adding red just sticking out from the underwear and deep brown of the inner of the kimono to these simple color tones, this portrait expresses the charm of Komazo. This represents the culmination of Sharaku’s depicting actors. Komazo Ichikawa III is the son of Komazo Ichikawa IV. He succeeded the name of Komazo when he was nine years old in 1772 (Anei 1). He became a leading actor (tachiyaku) in 1783 (Tenmei 3) and the most important villain (Jitsuaku) in 1798 (Kasei 10), and then succeeded Koshiro V in 1801 (Kyowa 1). He had sunken small but sharp eyes and nose was high; therefore, people called him as “High nose Koshiro”. When he was young, he did not play important roles. However, after he started playing villain, he became famous. His performance was fine, dynamic, and also realistic. He was a highly acclaimed actor and died at the age of 75 in May of 1838 (Tenpo 9).

 

 

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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