Tōshūsai Sharaku
The Actor Matsumoto Yonesaburō I in the Role of Kewaizaka no Shōshō
1794, 5th month

Signed: Tōshūsai Sharaku ga; Publisher’s logo (Tsutaya Jūsaburō); censor’s seal: kiwame; ōkubi-e, ōban, 36.2 x 24.2 cm; nishiki-e with light grey mica ground (nezumikira), kirazuri, karazuri and shōmenzuri

This rare print is remarkably refined, clear and ingenious in terms of printing technique. It shows the onnagata Matsumoto Yonesaburō as a courtesan. Over a white garment and an orange under kimono, he is wearing a light purple kimono with a woven pattern (asanoha pattern) in shibori technique. His right hand, in which he is holding a brush, has been consciously made smaller in order to emphasize the delicacy of his appearance. In 1794 he was still at the beginning of his career.

: Unidentified Japanese collection; F. Tikotin, La Tour de Peilz (May 1964)
Riese Collection #92

In this complicated story, three pairs of siblings all accomplish vengeance on the murderers of their fathers. Shinobu, one of two sisters, decides that to locate their sworn enemy they must frequent the places he is most likely to appear. Realising that he is a man of vicious habits, they contract to become courtesans in the Yoshiwara. Their plan succeeds, and their revenge is accomplished, but their story becomes inextricably involved with that of the Soga brothers since Kewaizaka no Shōshō, the courtesan whose guise Shinobu assumes, is the lover of the younger of the two boys, Gorō.
This impression is noteworthy for the beauty, clarity and delicacy of its printing.

Reproduced in Ingelheim catalogue, no. 84.
Riese, Asiatische Studien, 1972, p. 104, no. 26.