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Tokuji Otani as Fellow Sodesuke

Tokuji Otani as Fellow Sodesuke

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This work illustrates the fellow Sodesuke, who appeared “HanaAyame Bunroku Soga” to seek revenge that Miyako Theater played in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). Tokuji Otani was the leading actor of the fool at the time. Slanting eye-blow and round eyes express the foolish. In this portrait, Sharaku was succeeded in taking the structure: setting the object person to the left and making the right spacious. Even he put his seal to the lower right corner and made the space in front of the face. That makes the actor’s face more beautifully to move and depicting the expression actively. Sharaku also uses his distinctive structure: accumulating three similar items. Set the left side with two round items: the face line and right-hand fist, and for right side, makes the left hand that is holding under the handguard, to the similar shape. The depiction takes the balance and consistence. The majority of the color tone is sober color of kimono, and he added some deep yellow and crimson only. Among that, crimson of the sheath is effective. Less striking lines and colors are distinctive to Sharaku. This work tells these elements to us well.

 

 

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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