Konishi Hirosada Japanese (b. 1810-1864 )

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Clockwise from top left: 
Konishi Hirosada 
Japanese (1810-1864) 


Play: Ichinotani Futaba Gunki (1850) 
Color woodcut 
The George Lincoln Collection of Japanese Woodcuts, 2005.24.13 

Chu Retsu Gishi-Den [Loyal Retainers Lives] (1864) 
Color woodcut 
The George Lincoln Collection of Japanese Woodcuts, 2005.24.30 

Kesei Ishikawawazome [The Courtesan in a Robe of Dyed Ishikawa Cloth] (1864) 
Color woodcut 
The George Lincoln Collection of Japanese Woodcuts, 2005.24.23 

Play: Sewa Ryori Yaoya No Kondate [The Greengrocer’s Menu of Domestic Fare] (1864) 
Color woodcut 
The George Lincoln Collection of Japanese Woodcuts, 2005.24.24 

Like today’s movie stars, Kabuki actors in Edo Period (1615-1868) Japan developed a cult-like fan base. Admirers collected prints of their favorite performers playing a variety of roles. Artist Konishi Hirosada was one of the most prolific designers of woodblock prints during the 19th century, creating more than 800 prints, largely of Kabuki actors.

Each print required the collaboration of four experts: the designer (in this case, Hirosada), the engraver, the printer, and the publisher. It was the publisher who decided the subject and financed the project. Polychrome prints like these were made using a separate block carved for each color, sometimes as many as twenty. Reproductions could number in the thousands and were made until the woodblocks became worn, making the prints relatively inexpensive and accessible to a wide audience.