Japanese Woodcuts.

01582u edited

Nakayama Tomisaburō

The actor Nakayama Tomisaburo, known for playing female roles.
Artist: Kabukidō Enkyō (1749 – 1803), woodcut print, color, size ~13.5 x 9.1 in

The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is one of only seven known works, all portraits of actors, by Kabukidō Enkyō (1749–1803), the sole follower of the enigmatic Tōshūsai Sharaku. Nothing was known of Enkyō until 1926, when it was discovered that he also used the name Nakamura Jūsuke II; under this name he was known as an author and Kabuki actor. It is likely that the subject here is Nakayama Tomisaburō, a male actor who played female roles, as identified by an identical print by Enkyō in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. (World Digital Library article)

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Hizen gotō kujiraryō no zu  01790u - editedHizen gotō kujiraryō no zu

1859 – Whale hunting at the island of Goto in Hizen by Utagawa Hiroshige, also referred to as  Andō Hiroshige and Ichiyūsai Hiroshige.

Woodcut, color, ~13.9 x 9.5 in.

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Sawamura sōjūrō no soga no jūrō to ichimura takenojō no soga no gorō 01779u edited

Two Actors

(Sawamura sōjūrō no soga no jūrō to ichimura takenojō no soga no gorō)

Sawamura Sojuro as Soga Juro and Ichimura Takenojo as Soga Goro.  Two actors, Sawamura Sojurō I (1689-1756) in a kneeling position and Ichimura Takenojō (standing), dancing with a tsuzumi.

Woodcut, hand-colored, lacquer, powdered metal; 12.4 x 5.8 inches; created by Nishimura Shigenaga ca 1726 to 1736

Kabuki Actors: Sôjûrô and Takenojô

Actors can often be identified in Ukiyo-e prints by the personal crests on their costumes. For example, in this print by Nishimura Shigenaga (1697-1756) the kneeling actor wears an orange blossom crest, identifying him as Ichimura Takenojô. Takenojô was the nephew of a proprietor of a prominent kabuki theater in Edo. He eventually gave up acting and became a Buddhist priest. Above him stands Sawamura Sojurô, identified by the “i” crest. Since actor’s crests and names were handed down, they are not always a certain means of identification. (Library of Congress)

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