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Sokyuro Sawamuta III as Kurando Ogishi

Sokyuro Sawamuta III as Kurando Ogishi

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This portrait depicts a role that appears “HanaAyame Bunroku Soga” played by Miyako-za Theater. At a glance, this works seems to be simple, but it is said to be one of the best works of Shayaku’s. It is because Shayaku depicts not only the appearance of the actor but also expresses the quality, dignity as an actor, personal characteristic, and nature of the character; that is the uniqueness of the art of Shayaku that no other painters reached. An upper-body samurai who has an open fan portrait consists of only three major colors: deep purple in kimono, gold in the fan, and biotitic background. Those are just simple. However, Shayaku depicts Sojuro’s attribute, “Highly dignified and handsome looking”, as the object person has. Another significant depictions are tension of facial curve line from the right eyebrow to his chin and massiveness of the face. These amaze us. The words expressed Sojuro: “He is warm but there is a passion in his mind”. We can find characteristics of Sojuro as an actor, dubbed at the words, with small eyes and tension of his lips. At a glance, this portrait looks simple and calm; however, the opened fan around his breast adds liveliness to the portrait. Again, we can find Sharaku’s well-sharpened sense of color tone. Sojuro Sawamura II was the second son of Sojuro II. He is a brother of Yaozo Ichikawa III. People acclaimed his as one of the best actor in the era. He dies in March of 1801 at the age of 49.

 

 

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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