Hirosada, Jitsukawa Enzaburo I as Satsuma Gengobei

Konishi Hirosada (ca 1810 - 1864)  Jitsukawa Enzaburo I as Satsuma Gengobei in the play Godairiki Koi no Fujime, 1850. Deluxe Chuban.

Click here for a detailed enlargement.

There is something European and mediaeval about this image. In Osaka prints the importance of the design predominates. These prints captivate the viewer because of the conflict of the two themes of intense personal scrutiny and abstract design; themes that should run contrary to each other. The tension, the dialogue between the two conflicting approaches to portraiture draws the viewer in and if the artist is successful, as Hirosada usually is, the result is inspirational.

This is of course a 'modern' (one might say modernist) approach to figuration. It is the abstract qualities of line, direction, placement and edge that creates much of the character and the emotion of the subject. I’m thinking here of Roger Fry’s 'significant form' or of Parisian experiments in line, colour and the effects upon the emotions, espoused by Seurat and the Pointillists in the late nineteenth century.

In this piece, the tragic hero Satsuma Gengobei from the play Godairiki Koi no Fujime raises his sword to strike down his lover and idol,  Koman, a geisha so swept off her feet by his manly spirit that she cuts off her little finger as a pledge of her affections. Gengobei is tricked into thinking that she has betrayed him and so kills her and his rival, Sasano Sangobei. Hirosada shows him raising his sword… the richly decorated hilt awkwardly fitted into the top of the frame. It is the eyes that say it all though… that look of regret and sadness and the set of the mouth, so resigned to fate. As usual with Hirosada, all of this is conveyed with the utmost simplicity and restraint… a fine portrait.

A terrific Osaka print. Fine colour, impression and condition with rich metallics on the sword hilt and fine embossing.

25 x 18 cm.