Shigeharu, Nakamura Utaemon III

Ryusai Shigeharu (ca. 1803 - 1853) Nakamura Utaemon III, 1825 - 1827. Oban.

Shigeharu’s biography, like so many Osaka School artists, is little known. His first artist’s name appears to have been Kunishige, his first known print appearing in 1821. He changed his name to Shigeharu in 1826 and went on to become one of the only Osaka artists to make a living entirely from his work. This print is a very early and rare piece depicting a full length Nakamura Utaemon III in a kabuki dance. It is known that Utaemon III stimulated general interest in kabuki and in printmaking in Osaka by his visits and performances in the early 1820’s and was frequently the subject of Shigeharu’s prints. He carried out a series of seven dance prints in 1829 of the same subject. This print is earlier but after his break from his usual publisher of the period, Tenki.

This is an important print, very early in Shigeharu’s career and still in the pioneering period of Osaka printmaking. It is an oversize oban and the colour and drawing are utterly gorgeous. Shigeharu conveys a superb sense of movement to the dance and pays particular attention to the detail of the hands, the positions of the fingers and the tensing of the muscles. Utaemon wears a dress decorated with fruit and leaves.

Colour and impression fine, condition good with some rubbing to the edges and surface.

27cm x 39cm.