The Actor Ichikawa Omezo

Artist: Toshusai Sharaku
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1794
Ink, color and mica on paper
H x W: 37.4 x 25.2 cm (14 3/4 x 9 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

actor, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kabuki, theater, ukiyo-e, yakusha-e
Provenance research underway.

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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