Color woodblock print
Sheet: 38.4 x 25.1 cm (15 1/8 x 9 7/8 in.)
Gift of Jeptha H. Wade in honor of Emily V. Wade 1974.78
Sharaku portrayed the actor Matsumoto Koshiro IV in his role as the fish merchant Gorobei in the play A Medley of Tales of Revenge, performed at the Kiri Theater in June 1794. The actor specialized in the wagoto, or "gentle style," of acting. In the play, the fish merchant, whose business is located near the Yoshiwara, helps two courtesan sisters avenge their father’s murder. Sharaku created portraits for seven actors appearing in this play. During his ten-month career, Sharaku created about 150 designs for prints, including 28 bust portraits. Many of the portraits were printed with a gray mica background, a popular technique banned in 1794, the year Sharaku was active as a print designer. Censorship edicts restricted themes, sizes, and techniques used in the printing industry as an attempt to curtail the luxuries of the merchant class, patrons of prints. Although the lowest class in society, they had become the wealthiest class by the 18th century. In an effort to maintain a hierarchy, governmental edicts often regulated basic aspects of life.
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