(dates of birth and death unknown)
Tsutaya Juzaburo--the man who discovered Utamaro's talent--commissioned Toshusai Sharaku, at the time an unknown artist drawing yakusha-e (portraits of kabuki actors), to do actors' okubi-e (close-ups). These prints of Edo kabuki actors in theatrical roles caused a sensation. What surprised the public was that the prints weren't intended to depict the actors beautifully; the highly original designs purposely emphasized the actors' idiosyncrasies.
Along with Utamaro, Sharaku played an important part in bringing about the golden age of ukiyo-e prints. But his works were too daring for the tastes of many people, and he disappeared from the world of ukiyo-e after only 10 months of activity.
Ichikawa Ebizo no Takemura Sadanoshin (Ichikawa Ebizo as Takemura Sadanoshin)
This print highlights the honest personality of the role played by Ichikawa Ebizo. The use of just a few colors produces a powerful effect.
Ichikawa Omezo no Yakko Ippei (Ichikawa Omezo as Yakko Ippei)
This print depicts a warrior just as he draws his sword to attack his enemy. The solid red costume is striking.
Tanimura Torazo no Washizuka Heiji (Tanimura Torazo as Washizuka Heiji)
The mean look on the actor's face skillfully expresses the character's evil ambition.
Click on the image for a bigger view.