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Shigeharu (1803 - 1853)

Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Ebizo as Issun Tokubei

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1834
Size (H x W): 14.75 x 10 (inches)
Publisher: Tenmaya Kihei
Signature: Ryusai Shigeharu ga
Condition: Very good color and impression, small wormage bottom edge, light soiling and staining.

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About the artist

Born in Nagasaki, Shigeharu was one of the few full-time woodblock print artists in Osaka. He is known for his versatility of style. From incredible delicacy to palpable intensity, his works are endlessly imaginative. He completed his first print at age 17, signing the work “Nagasaki Kunishige,” not adopting “Shigeharu” until 1826. Between 1825 and 1829, he collaborated with Kunihiro, producing several polyptychs of note. Shigeharu also collaborated with the master carver Kasuke in 1827. By 1829, Shigeharu was the most prolific artist in Osaka, producing distinguished actor prints, painted billboards, and illustrated books. Despite his success on the more commercial side of printmaking, around 1831 he focused on a more detailed and delicate approach to his work.


Shigeharu returned to his native Nagasaki following the civil and economic instability of Osaka in the 1830s. While he passed away in his hometown, some scholars contend that he returned to Osaka and completed actor bust-portraits signed “Kunishige.” His last known print was completed in 1838, but Shigeharu continued to illustrate books through 1841.