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Koshiro Matsumoto IV as Gorobe Sakanaya at Sanya

Koshiro Matsumoto IV as Gorobe Sakanaya at Sanya

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This is a portrait of Gobobe Sakanaya appeared at “Adauchi noriawasedan” of Kiriza Theater in May of 1794 (kansei 6). His role is playing a fishery of chivalry helping Takagino and Shinobu sisters, who are daughters of Matsushita Tsukurizakayashin. Gorobe assisted them to seek parents’ revenge against Daishichi Shiga. In this portrait, a big wide black color of a padded kimono is a basic color in the screen. Another colors are green around the cuff and yellow and crimson of the smoking pipe in a small area. Most of the areas are sober deep purple of padded kimono contrasting with black color. Along with the biotite in dark color in the background, some bright colors appearing like dots have nice impact on the screen. This color sensitivity is unique to Sharaku. Koshiro Matsumoto IV is the best actor during 1780-1800s (Tenmei ? Kansei) of his looks, appearance, voice, and eloquence. He was always quiet but once he opened his mouth, people said he was ironic and made people laugh. Also, people said he often played charactors with patted face white. Shayaku recognizes and depicts his character and appearance well. A line of a hand inserted into the left cuff and softly drawn a line from left shoulder to the hand that is holding the smoking pipe, and the gaily inserted red shadow around the eyes are among them. Koshiro IV was originally in the school of Kikunozyo Segawa, an actor who played female roles, and left for Danjyuro IV. He renamed Somegoro, Koraiya, and finally became Koshiro. He died in 1802 (Kyowa 2) at the age of 66.

 

 

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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