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Tomisaburo Segawa II as Yadorigi, a wife of Ogishi Kurando and Manyo Nakamura as Wakakusa, a maid

Tomisaburo Segawa II as Yadorigi, a wife of Ogishi Kurando and Manyo Nakamura as Wakakusa, a maid

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During Sharaku’s first period as an artist, standing two-object half body portrait has contrast with color tones and characteristics. This portrait depicts the contrast well: skinny Tomisaburo and stout Manyo and pale color kimono of Tomisaburo and deep color of Manyo’s. Furthermore, Tomisaburo has serious and sharp face line but Manyo has round one: they also have contrast with eye depiction and hands direction. Each contrast becomes the impressive structure and appeals to us. Sharaku always uses this contrast in his two-object portrait; however, this technique has a power appeal to us.

 

 

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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