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Early Japanese Sculpture
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Nakamura Konozo as the Boatman Kanagawaya no Gon and Nakajima Wadaemon as "Dried Codfish" Chozaemon
Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)
Japan; Edo period (1615-1867), 1794 - 1795
Woodblock print; Ink, color, and mica on paper
H. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm); W. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
In this print, the actors Nakajima Wadaemon and Nakamura Konozo are shown in their roles as two minor characters from a production of A Medley of Tales of Revenge (Katachi-uchi Noriyai-banashi). This play was presented at the Kiriza during the 1794 - 1795 season and recorded by the artist Sharaku in a series of prints. A combination of two popular Kabuki dramas, the play tells the story of two sisters' revenge for the death of their father. Here the witty comparisons between the facial expressions of the two actors and between Nakamura's bulk and Nakajima's emaciation remind viewers that actors are real people and not ideal creatures. Nothing certain is known about the life of the artist Sharaku. However, it is fairly sure that he is responsible for about 150 woodblock prints featuring various actors in scenes from contemporary Kabuki performances.
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