The Actor Ichikawa Omezo

Maker(s)
Artist: Toshusai Sharaku
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1794
Medium
Woodblock print; ink, color and mica on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 37.4 x 25.2 cm (14 3/4 x 9 15/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1974.10
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Woodblock print

Keywords
actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kabuki, theater, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, yakusha-e
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Sharaku's dramatic portraits of actors, which often focus on the head and torso, are among the most famous images in the history of Japanese prints. Here the actor Ichikawa Omezo plays a footman (yakko) who prepares to draw his sword to defend his young master. Although the color of the actor's red robe has nearly disappeared, the compressed composition and the actor's exaggerated expression convey the tension of the moment. Little is reliably known about Sharaku, whose brief and brilliant production of actor prints continues to stimulate debate, speculation, and imaginative fiction. The stark realism of this portrait is enhanced by a shimmering dark mica background, a striking feature of many of Sharaku's actor portraits.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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