Hirosada, Kabuki Actor Riding a Deer

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864) Kabuki Actor Riding a Deer, 1849. Deluxe Chuban.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

This lovely print is a complete mystery. I cannot find a single reference to an Osaka kabuki performance where an actor rides a deer. That said, we have put it into the show because it is so beautiful, so rich and so mysterious. The drawing and the colours predict the manga animations of the next century (and in particular the deer-riding hero of Princess Mononoke, Ashitaka), as do the characterisation and sensual shorthand of the deer - anthropomorphic in expression and brilliantly interpreted. The colours are rich and dense… the chocolate brown of the deer against the orange of the robes, one opaque and thick the other translucent and delicate. The rider’s hair is as frail and delicate as any graphic art I know. There are small patches of bronze amid the overlayed and shaded background and everywhere the dark key-line snakes and binds the composition like a stained glass window.

The sheet stands alone, like all Osaka prints, but is probably part of a wider composition. Colour, impression and condition are all fine.

18cm x 25cm.