Jul 1, 2014

Otani Tokuji as the Servant Sodesuke

Otani Tokuji as the Servant Sodesuke


Tōshūsai Sharaku 東洲斎 写楽


Color woodblock print

Sheet: 36.2 x 25.2 cm (14 1/4 x 9 15/16 in.)

Bequest of Edward L. Whittemore 1930.206



The actor portrays a servant in the play Blooming Iris: Soga Vendetta, which opened at the Miyako Theater in June 1794. The play relates a 12th-century story about brothers who avenge the death of their murdered father. The clenched fist and mouth express the character’s determination.

Sharaku is mentioned in the most important biographical resource for actors compiled during the Kansai era (1789-1801). Since Sharaku’s career was so short, the text may reflect public reaction to his portraits: "Sharaku: another artist who did likenesses of actors, but his excess of zeal to draw the real realistically led him to produce strange works, so that his popularity did not last long, and he ceased to work within a year or two."

See also
Japanese Art
Japanese Art
Type of artwork: 

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