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Ōtani Oniji III as Yakko Edobei (1794)

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About the Art

Hunched and grimacing, the character of Yakko Edobei glares menacingly into the distance. This piece is taken from the play "The Colored Reins of a Loving Wife", a Kabuki play that was originally written for ‘Bunraku’, or puppet theatre.

The story is one of a forbidden love between a courtesan and one of Lord Umanosuke’s retainers. A 'Yakko' refers to a samurai’s footman, and is a common character in Kabuki dramas used to assist the quest of the hero or villain. Featuring multiple sub-plots, this play has undergone many adaptations in an attempt at simplifying its storyline. It is reported that Harusuke, an accomplished playwright who adapted the original story, was so enraged by the play’s poor construction that he attacked his co-writer with a knife.

Sharaku is known for his incredibly realistic illustrations. Unlike many kabuki specialists, Sharaku was fascinated by the person behind the mask; the actors themselves. In an attempt at gaining psychological realism, he ignored his contemporaries who seeked to flatter the kabuki actors. In fact, Sharaku even exaggerated their facial features. Sharaku’s ‘warts-and-all’ method of designing received bad reception and offended many actors of the time. Although he created nearly 150 incredible prints, his working life as an artist spanned a period of only ten months before he seemingly disappeared, and there is no evidence of Sharaku having had training with any ukiyo-e masters. In Japan he’s named the “enigmatic ukiyo-e master” and Sharaku’s life is still very much a mystery.

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    • Arrives ready-to-hang
      • Mounting brackets for framed and canvas prints are included and centered on the frame
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      • Fade resistant paper and canvas materials, with a matte finish for an authentic look

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