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Kozasa, a wife of Washizaka Kandayu (Zenji Bando) and Fujinami, a wife of Washizaka

Kozasa, a wife of Washizaka Kandayu (Zenji Bando) and Fujinami, a wife of Washizaka

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This portrait illustrates the characters appear as wives of both good and bad men side in “Koinyobo Somewake Taduna” played by Kawarazaki-za Theater in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). During Sharaklu’s first period, there are five two objects standing portraits. Only this portrait, two objects are not facing each other, but looking at the same direction. Because of that, it is unusual for Sharaku’s portraits that the structure seems to be flat and have many drawing lines. However, we can see Sharaku’s power of the arts from the depiction of Zenji Bando’s complicated strong personality, which is significant illustration of an actor plays female role. On the other hand, Kiyotaro’s moderate and mild facial expression create the enough atmosphere of good man’s wife. Also, bright color of the kimono tells about the youth. It is interesting that we can appreciate that from the hand expressions: this tells who is good man side or bad man side. Zenji Bando played bad men character at that time. Although he was not famous, Sharaku illustrated him multiple times. It is because Sharaku loved his appearance. Kiyotaro Iwai was a student of Hanshiro and became Kiyotaro in 1787 (Tenmei 7). At that time in 1764 (Kansei 6), he was not in the front line, only the third highest ranks as an actor. Sharaku illustrated not only leading actors: this is what Sharaku is.

 

 

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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