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Yonesaburo Matsumoto as Kewaizaka Shosho, atutually Shinobu

Yonesaburo Matsumoto as Kewaizaka Shosho, atutually Shinobu

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This portrates depicts one of the sisters, Miyagino and Shinobu, who sought revenge of their father killed by Shiga Daishichi. The role appears “Adauchi NoriaiBanashi” played by Kiri-za Theather in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). This portrait illustrates Shinobu, who became a prostitute named Kewaizaka Syosho to search the enemy. This is one of the most moderate works that illustrates the female role with upper body structure. This is because of Yonesaburo’s immatureness (supposedly he was 21 at this time) and Shayaku depicted the youth as it is. Namely, Shayaku does not illustrates the irregular attribute of the actors, but he illustrates the reality of the actors on the stage. This portrait proves his stance. It does not mean this saying is too much. Also, seriousness around the eyes and around the mouth the truth is hidden: Sharaku well depictes the inside of the daughter who is seeking the enemy who killed her father. Also, color tone is unique: kimono with hemp leaves in radish-brown, another layer of kimono with shell figure in light crimson, color tone that showing off crimson underwear with right hand from inside of pocket. These are not only gaily but also providing tension with the large black belt. Furthermore, the diagonal line with the cigarette held with left hand gives the good balance on the portrait. Yonesaburo Matsumoto is a child of Ayame Yoshizawa IV, who played female roles, and became an adopted son of Kojiro Matsumoto who was an apprentice of Koshiro Matsumoto II. Finally, he succeeded the name of the name of Yonesaburo. During Kansei period, he was a very polular acttor who played female roles; however, he died in June of 1805 (Bunka 2) when he was only 31 years old.

 

 

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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