Hokuei Shumbaisai (active 1829 - 1836) Portrait of Arashi Rikan II, 1830. Oban.
A very fine Japanese print indeed. Hokuei is one of the great and expressive Osaka print artists of the the 1830’s - the so called 'third period'. Pre-dating the great triumphs of Hirosada, Hokuei retains some of the 'primitive' virtues of the the eighteenth century Edo schools but with a flamboyance and baroqueness that is also very modern.
Hokuei Shumbaisai had one of the shortest careers of any of the major Osaka print artists. He was a pupil of Hokushu, and it seems that this very rare print - possibly unique - is only his third known work. He designed only 150 sheets in a period of just under ten years.
This fine print shows the actor Arashi Rikan II under the shadow of a great flowering cherry tree in an onnagata role. The trunk of the tree seethes with movement and a concealed fecundity whilst above the blossoms burst with life. The individual blossoms are picked out with rich embossing as is the pattern on Rikan’s kimono. The colour here is bold and it retains its strength and freshness, the impression - as with most Osaka prints - is very fine and the print is mounted on Japanese album paper and is otherwise very good. A fine and very rare piece.
Published by Honsei.
36 x 24 cm.