Artwork of the Week: October 4

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Natori Shunsen (Japanese, 1886–1960), The Actor Nakamura Jakuemon III as Oshichi from the series Creative Prints, Collection of Portraits by Shunse), color woodblock print, 1927. Image: 15 3/16 x 10 1/8 in. Canaday Gallery, in the exhibition Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints

Natori Shunsen (Japanese, 1886–1960), The Actor Nakamura Jakuemon III as Oshichi from the series Creative Prints, Collection of Portraits by Shunse, color woodblock print, 1927. Image: 15 3/16 x 10 1/8 in. Canaday Gallery, in the exhibition Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints

Depicted here is the Kabuki onnagata, or female role specialist, Nakamura Jakuemon III (1875–1927) in the role of Oshichi. He is joined by two assistants called kurogo, barely visible hiding under their black robes and hoods (they were meant to blend into the background as they helped with costume and prop changes during a performance). Oshichi was tragically burned at the stake after being convicted of arson (her flame-like robe hints at her fate). Here she performs a dramatic dance in order to tell her story. This striking print is one of 343 color woodblock prints from the 1910s and 20s (all but five belonging to TMA) on display in Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, opening in Canaday Gallery today.


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