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Matsusuke Onoe as Matsumoto Tukurisakenoshin

Matsusuke Onoe as Matsumoto Tukurisakenoshin

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This work depicts a character appeared in “Adauchi NoriaiBanashi” played as kyogen by Kiri-za Theater in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). He is a masterless samurai in poverty and is killed for Shiga Daishichi. The all Tsukurisakenoshin’s attribute: loneliness, tiredness, and having unfortunate life, are well expressed in the screen. His kimono is simple deep green, forehead hair is untrimmed, beard under the nose and chin are unshaved, and has hollowed eyes make us feel his tiredness: Sharaku reproduces the quality of actor’s performance. A hand holding a fan does not seem to have energy: we can clearly feel the lonesome masterless samurai circumstances. Matsusuke became Shoroku later His son was Kikugoro Onoe III, and he became a highly acclaimed actor. He performed monster characters at “Kohata Koheiji” and “Tenjiku Tokubei”, cairn story and became famous. He died in 1815 (Bunka 12) at the age of 73. He acted an antagonist, Sasaki Ganryu in this May kyogen; however, Sharaku illustrated mostly this Tsukurisakenosuke role. This is probably because Sharaku was impressed this character has lonesome attribute: we can see Sharaku’s taste in this portrait.

 

 

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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