Shigeharu, Ichikawa Hakuen in Chuko Homare

Ryusai Shigeharu (ca. 1803 - 1853) Ichikawa Hakuen in Chuko Homare, 1825 - 1827. Oban.

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This is such a fine print by Shigeharu. An Osaka artist, not overly well known, his prints show great delicacy and stylistically, betray the influence of Toyokuni I. The drawing here is quite outstanding, the fire pit is especially vigorous, and the overall design, the letters against the black sky, the harsh patterns all make this an imposing and exciting composition.

The play Chuko Homare is another version of the story of The Crossroads at Gappo. The play itself appears to be lost, but John Fiorillo has this to say about the play Chuko Homare:

Chûko homare no futamichi (Honor, loyalty, and filial piety at the crossroads) premiered in 1792. The libretto appears not to have survived, but the drama was one of many revenge plays, also called katakiuchi-mono (revenge-killing plays). Revenge plays were admired for their dramatic presentation of vendettas — considered a prime example of absolute loyalty to the samurai code of honour. A sub-genre of kabuki and puppet plays, they epitomised the portrayal of evil on the theatrical stage, reflecting an growing fascination of Kasei-period (1804-1830) popular culture with unfettered cruelty and cynicism.

Shigeharu shows the actor Ichikawa Hakuen as Tateba no Taheiji, an evil character as can be seen by his pose in this print. Employed as a retainer, he runs a roadside stall and is not averse to the murder of men, women and children.

This is an outstanding Shigeharu. A fine print, colour, condition and impression all fine.

25 x 35.5 cm.