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Oniji Otani II as Kawashima Jibugoro

Oniji Otani II as Kawashima Jibugoro

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This portrait depicts Kawashima Jibugoro, who appears as a villain at “NihonMatsu Mutsu Sodachi” played by Kawarasaki-za Theater in July of 1794 (Kansei 6). His role is to kill Tomida Kaidayu in the second act of ichibanme piece. There is a picture depicting Omezo Ichikawa as Tomida Heitaro (a son of Kaidayu); therefore, these are a series of pictures. Although they are a set, each of them are known as excellent works among taller size version work. The grayish background implies the dark night and it contrast with dark gray of kimono (some version is dark green) and crimson in underwear: these represent his cruel role. The white in the hood creates somehow strange atmosphere. Jibugoro raises his right hand and hides his face and grabs his head with his left hand. From his upper body to lower body shapes a strong curve. Red around his eyes, face with blue shaved face, and he blares to the side: these facial expression are excellent. Sharaku shows the greatest works depicting realistically the Jibugoro’s mind and man slaughter scene. No depiction can do it more. Oniji Otani II is a student of Horoji Otani III. Oniji named first Eisuke, Haruji, then took over his master’s previous name Oniji. Sharaku also illustrated his succession kyogen play. Oniji die the same year as the succession, November of 1796 (Kansei 8) at the age of 36.

 

 

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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