. Among the four most famous ukiyo-e masters, Utamaro, Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Sharaku, the later has a very special place.The years of his birth and his death are still unknown. All that we know is that he was active for less than a year between May 1794 and March 1795. The mystery on his life led scholars to imagine that he was in fact a well-known artist who has renewed himself under a pseudonym. Some of these scholars even claim that Sharaku could actually be Hokusai.
Unlike other artists, Sharaku showed no interested in nature or beauties, and almost all of Sharaku artworks are yakusha-e, i.e. portraits of kabuki actors. These prints are divided into 4 periods, each period revolving around several plays performed at one of the three major Edo kabuki theaters. For each play the actors are portrayed in roles they acted.
Below are presented a few prints for each of the four periods :
The kabuki plays of the first period (performed in May and June 1794)
The kabuki plays of the second period (performed between July and September 1794)
Actors in the play titled ‘Keisei Sanbon Karakasa’
Actors in the plays ‘Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi’ and ‘Yomo no Nishiki Kokyō no Tabi-ji’
Actors in the two plays titled ‘Nihon-matsu Michinoku Sodachi’