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Yodogoro Sawamura II as Kawatsura Hougan and Zenji Bando as Onino Sadobo

Yodogoro Sawamura II as Kawatsura Hougan and Zenji Bando as Onino Sadobo

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This portrait depicts two characters appear in “Yoshitsune Senbonzakura” played as final kyogen in the second play by Kawarasaki-za Theater in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). This portrait is one of the two half body objects standing drawn over the first period of Sharaku’s artist life. Kawatsura Hougan, on the right, is a person who hides Minamoto Yoshitsune; Onino Sadobo, on the left, is a villain targeting Yoshitsune following Yokawa no Kakuhan. Sharaku contrasts both good and bad man. As Sharaku illustrates in other two objects portrait, Sharaku contrasts two objects: Yodogoro opens his mouth but Zenji closes, Yodogoro makes a fist but Zenji opens his hand, Yodogoro had longer hair but Zenji is bold hair. Sharaku adds the variation into the screen. There are other characters in the play, such as Shizukagozen, Sato tTadanobu, and Yokawano Kakuhan: Sharaku could set these characters with Kawatsura Hougan, but he didn’t. Sharaku set the object from his point of view not limit to the traditional way. This is because that Sharaku believes that both Yodogoro and Zenji will maximize his depiction of art. This is what Sharaku is different from other artists and represents his unseen unique ability of artist. Yodogoro Sawamura II is the second highest actor who plays a villain. For Zenji Bando, he was not highly ranked actor as motioned in the description of “Kiyotaro Iwai as Fujinami, a wife of Washizaka Sanai and Zenji Bando as Kozasa, a wife of Washizuka Kandayu”.

 

 

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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