Hirosada, Kataoka Ichizo I as Iruka Daijin from Imoseyama Onna Teiken

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Kataoka Ichizo I as Iruka Daijin from the Play Imoseyama onna teiken (Examples of Womanly Virtue) 1850. Deluxe Chuban.

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This striking portrait is a late Hirosada and displays an astonishing repertoire of marks lines and blocks in the description of the face of the actor Kataoka Ichizo I. It is sometimes easy to allow one’s eye to glance over the surface of these portraits and miss the exotic and mannered construction of the features - a type of visual shorthand that is surely the antecedent of contemporary manga comics. The eyes alone here are constructed from a series of deft arcs, lines, circles and part circles. The certainty of the hand allows for no error and despite what seems to be a limited range of marks and edges, the face of Iruka Daijin emerges fully formed. The same economy and flair for design and composition litters the drawing - the neckerchief, a collision of jagged lines, so elegantly interrupted by the perfect arc of the hair… that is itself abruptly terminated by a forceful yet delicate vertical line. This strategy of semi-abstraction allows Hirosada to build the portrait around an elaborate and solid design of pattern and shapes, anchoring the face in the great body of colour and pattern at the base of the print.

The play itself is an eighteenth century puppet (bunraku) play with the typical internecine plot. The love story between young nobles, the preparation of sacred potions, and doomed lovers united in death all appear - Iruka being the stoic patriarch pictured so well by Hirosada in this print.

A deluxe print with an exquisite impression of great delicacy. The colour and condition are all fine - the background yellow has oxidised a little. There are minor wormholes to the left hand margin.

17cm x 24cm.