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Omezo Ichikawa as Yakko Ippei

Omezo Ichikawa as Yakko Ippei

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This portrait depicts Yakko-Ippen in “Koinyoubo Somewake Taduna” of Kawarasaki-za Theater in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). Yakko-Ippei favors of Date no Yoichi. This work is especially called “Akajyuban (Red Undershirt)”. The red color sets off this portrait and a moment of posture appeals us greatly. In this portrait, Omezo’s facial expression is unique; we can image his serious appearance in the scene. Omezo’s facial expression makes us convince that he glares at the opponent and captures the intense moment almost slash the opponent. At he same time, we are amazed the depiction of Omezo’s youth appearance, who matured in 1788 (Kansei 1), with his lips and facial lines and from under the nose to chin. Omezo Ichikawa was in school of Danjyuro Ichikawa. He won distinction when he was young: people said he was the best actor during Bunka-Bunsei era (1804-1830). In 1823 (Bunsei 6), he was honored of “kou zyozyokichi” in “Jitsuaku”, which was the highest actor’s rank as playing opponent roles. He died in June of 1833 at the age of 53.

 

 

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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