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Torazo Tanimura as Washiduka Yaheiji

Torazo Tanimura as Washiduka Yaheiji

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This work depicts a role that appears “KoiNyobo Somewake Taduna” played by Kawarasaki-za Theather in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). This is an unimportant villain, a brother of Washiduka Kandayu who aims at Yurugi Family. Torazo is a small and pert actor; therefore, his characteristics and facial expression fit in a small villain role. This portrait is popular for depicting a small villain role effectively with full of kabuki taste. For his face, he uses polishing powder and shaved part of the forehead is significant. The color tone of deep purple kimono and black outfit has good contrast that adds some taste to the picture. He bites his lips and eyeballs are out and the eye shadow around them is vivid red, and facial expression is also brilliant. This is an excellent work. Torazo Tanimura was a student of Tatehachi Tanimura, and he played and became famous as Kamigata yakusha (Osaka area’s actor). In 1792 (Kansei 4) when he was twenty-four, he went down to Edo and changed his name to Toraemon Otani in 1795 (Kansei 7). He has charm and good at playing a villain and dance and musical style kabuki. He became the highest rank of actor playing opponent role in 1829 (Bunsei 12). In the spring of 1830, he died in Osaka at the age of 70.

 

 

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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