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Omezo Ichikawa as Tomita Heitaro

Omezo Ichikawa as Tomita Heitaro

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This work is depicting Omezo Ichikawa as Tomita Heitaro appeared at “Nihonmatsu Michinoku Sodachi” played by Kawarasaki-za Theater in July of 1794 (Kansei 6). This picture is considered to be paired with “Otani Oniji II as Jibugoro”. This is a scene that Heitaro rushes to appears when Kaidayu, his father, is killed by Kawashima Jibugoro, he projects out the lantern in the dark night and puts his hand to his sward that is about to be drawn. Sharaku illustrates Heitaro’s uncertainty going to the dark night well in his footsteps: Sharaku captured character’s mind well. This work seems to be simple at a glance; however, we can see his detail oriented observation and his unique techniques. The color tones, light purple kimono, deep green in hakama, and gray in background, make us feel calm. We can enjoy this portrait more along with Oniji as Jibugoro.

 

 

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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