Hirosada, The Ghost of Togoro's Wife

Gosotei Hirosada (ca.1810 - 1864) The Ghost of Togoro’s Wife,  1852. Chuban.

This is a very fine, very beautiful print. Credited with being the ghost of Togoro’s wife, it is possible that this is a misattribution, given its similarity to the well-known print by Hirosada of the ghost of Osan from 1840. We can tell that the woman pictured is a ghost by her blue lips, her pallor, and her pose. The upper character recoils in alarm.

According to Ikeda Bunko in Collected Kamigata Actor Prints vol 1, the actor is Fujikawa Tomokichi III as the ghost from the play Hana no Kuma Sakura no Akebono performed at the Kado-za in 1852. The two actors are beautifully depicted and the decorative composition has all the delicacy one expects from Hirosada.

The Osaka prints of Gosotei Hirosada are among the finest and most individual of the whole ukiyo-e genre. Particularly outstanding are these half length chuban actor portraits from the 1840’s. Instantly recognisable, these exquisite, complex pictures are among some of the finest character portraits produced anywhere in the world. Self contained, endlessly inventive within a tight, self imposed pictorial constraint, each picture is capable of extraordinary surprise and revelation - be it tiny details of design or technique or astonishing bold leaps of facility. Hirosada effortlessly plays with illusion, depth and pattern whilst all the time maintaining the spirit of the subject and the realism of the portrait.

A fine print in good condition, very good colour and impression.

The print appears in Ikeda Bunko, Collected Kamigata Actor Prints vol 1, 1997.