Hirosada, Arashi Rikaku II as Amako Fusamaru

Konishi Hirosada (ca. 1810 - 1828) Arashi Rikaku II as Amako Fusamaru, 1850. Deluxe Chuban.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

I have spent half an hour trying to unravel the complex design of this print and given up. Like holding an Indian miniature or an enamelled box, the print defies my attempt to deconstruct it. The patterns weave and swoop beneath each other and above, the colours which seem consistent at first, fade and change hue across the surface of the paper - in the geometric design to the left, the different shaded blocks overlay each other making an infinite variety of colour and tone and the pattern itself escapes in the confusion. On top of this, the swooping, dark key-line seems sometimes to hold the design in check and then to  release it and yet despite this energetic disunity, the entire design fits together like some complex puzzle with the face of Rikaku gazing serenely into the middle distance, his hand (the other undecorated surface), gripping the braided haft of a bow, the arrow at his shoulder and the string all but lost in the great explosion of colour, of texture and of surface.

A very fine and sophisticated theatre portrait by Hirosada. The actor Arashi Rikaku II is portrayed as Amako Fusamaru in the drama Keisei Hana Ikada performed at the Chikugo-za in Osaka in January 1850. This print is often misattributed as a portrait of Arashi Rikan II, however Rikan II died in 1837.

A fine impression and strong colour, burnishing and additional mica in the hair. A slight crease two-thirds of the way up otherwise very good condition.