Sharaku: The Enigmatic Ukiyo-e Master
Rembrandt, Velazquez, and Toshusai Sharaku have been called the greatest portrait artists of all time. Of the three, Sharaku's name is undoubtedly the least widely known. This comparative obscurity may be due to the fact that Sharaku was ignored in his own country and time, Japan of the eighteenth century, and remained in obscurity until his powerful portraits of Kabuki actors were discovered over one hundred years later by Western artists and critics. Another possible reason for Sharaku's lesser reputation is that his artistic career spanned scarcely ten months, after which his critics hounded him from the art world. Added to this is the fact that virtually no records have come down to us that reveal his identity - the man himself is a mystery shrouded in a mystery. Despite these obstacles, however, many of the works of Sharaku have survived, and anyone with an eye for powerful, unflinching art will them infinitely worthy of their attention. Although we are still largely ignorant as to the identity of Sharaku, a few clues have come to light. The last section of the book, thus, is given over to the description of documents and works of art that may eventually lead to a fuller portrait of this great portrait artist.
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