Ichikawa Danjuro VI as Arakawa Taro (?)
From the Drama Otokoyama O Edo No Ishizue
13 x 9 1/4 inches
|Credit line||Gift of Mary Alston Read Simms from the Collection of Motte Alston Read in memory of him and his Mother, Jane Ladson Alston Read|
The provenance of the Japanese print collection is closely tied to the city of Charleston and is indicative of this port city's long fascination with objects from the Far East. This collection played a direct role in the artistic development of the Charleston Renaissance period, whose artists found inspiration in the dynamic compositions and bold color schemes of the wood-block prints.
Three major gifts created the collection of over seven hundred fine prints, dating from early works of the mid-seventeenth century to the decadent styles of the mid-nineteenth century. Motte Alston Read assembled the core of the collection in Charleston after his retirement from Harvard University, where he was a professor of Physiography. Read collected a cross section of types, styles and methods from a wide range of artists. In 1920, he died in Charleston leaving his entire collection of four hundred prints to his sister Mary Alston Read Simms. The collection was donated to the Gibbes in 1947.
Evolving from its use as book illustrations, the single sheet wood-block print reached its zenith as an art form during Japan's Edo Period (1615 - 1868). Called ukiyo-e or "pictures of the floating world," the wood-block print was considered a popular art form, created solely for temporary pleasure and mass consumption.