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Wadaemon Nakajima as Boudara Chozaemon and Korezo Nakamura as Funayado Kanagawa-ya no Gon

Wadaemon Nakajima as Boudara Chozaemon and Korezo Nakamura as Funayado Kanagawa-ya no Gon

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This work is acclaimed one of the best works in Syaraku’s first period depicting half body two men’s portraits. The story was entitled “Adauchi noriai banashi” of kyogen played by Kiri-za Theater in May of 1796 (Kansei 6). The same as his other two men half body portraits, this work also shows significant contrast with two objects. A thinner face of Wadaemon and round face of Korezo, drown upward eyebrow and lowered eyebrow, round eyes and straight lined eyes, hooked nose and pug nose, and opened mouth and tightly closed mouth: these contrasts are interesting and their well depiction make this work livelily. The clothes’ colors also have contrast: Wadaemon wears deeper color; on the other hand, Korezo wears white yukata. I assume while Sharaku was illustrating these portraits he had confidence, interest and was feeling pleasure depicting this work. At that time, these two actors were in the third-class actors and their roles were unimportant. Regardless of their roles, Sharaku illustrated these men very livelily and created the excellent work. It is very uncommon to illustrate the unimportant actors to nishikie; therefore we assume his confidence as an artist that nobody goes beyond him fully appears in this work.

 

 

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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