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Seven Great Osaka Actors in Favorite Roles, c. 1790

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Osaka was a growing city in the Edo period and a thriving center of commercial activity. With its wealthy merchants, Osaka developed its own unique urban culture. While it had licensed pleasure quarters, it was better known for its puppet plays and Kabuki theater. Consequently, paintings and prints from Osaka featuring Kabuki actors far outnumber those showing beautiful women. The artist Jokei specialized in portraits of famous actors. For this short handscroll he depicted seven popular Kabuki actors; each performed in one of five different plays staged in Kyoto and Osaka between 1782 and 1787. Jokei developed a relatively realistic style and didn’t flinch from depicting the less flattering characteristics of the actors’ features, like puffy faces.

Seven Great Osaka Actors in Favorite Roles
Artist Life
died 1810
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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sprinkled with gold