Toshusai Sharaku (Worked 1794-1795)

Toshusai Sharaku (Worked 1794-1795)

Toshusai Sharaku (Worked 1794-1795)

Toshusai Sharaku (Worked 1794-1795)

Excerpt

Since artists with little-known backgrounds were not uncommon in the past, why is it that Toshusai Sharaku alone is called the enigmatic, the mysterious artist? The reason is simple. He emerged suddenly in 1794 like a comet in the vast sky, was active for a brief period of ten months, and then vanished again into obscurity. Just as a comet exists for a considerable time before and after it can be seen from the earth, so too must Sharaku have lived before and after those ten months. Nevertheless, nothing is known about him. Except for certain facts associated with his brief emergence, everything concerning his ordinary life is shrouded in mystery.

During this short period of scarcely three hundred days he is known to have designed the amazing number of over one hundred and forty prints, about which a good deal is known. Moreover, his artistic accomplishments have come to be very highly regarded, critics throughout the world recognizing him as one of the great artists of Japan. He was, however, no exception to the rule that the little- known artist almost always receives a cold reception from his contemporaries. If he had worked long enough to win the struggle for recognition in his own time, doubtless more would have been recorded concerning him. But as it was, Sharaku's very existence was almost completely ignored in his day.

Utamaro, disapproving of Sharaku's actor prints, called them "portraits depicting the least attractive of human traits." Shokusanjin and Kyoden made short shrift of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.