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IPPITSUSAI BUNCHO (Japan, Edo fl. 1760-1770, d. 1794 / act: Edo)

Ippitsusai Buncho Ippitsusai Buncho was a Japanese print designer and book illustrator active in Edo (present day Tokyo). He may have been a pupil of the 'Ukiyo-e' (pictures of the floating world) artist Ishikawa Yukimoto. He is principally known for prints of the following types: 'hosoban' (narrow format); 'yakushae' (pictures of actors) and 'bijinga' (pictures of beautiful women). In its eclecticism, his style resembles that of his contemporaries, Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) and Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-1792), who incorporated a lyricism with a naturalistic depiction of the subject. In 1770 Buncho collaborated with Harunobu and Shunsho to produce 'Ehon butai ogi' (picture book of stage fans; untraced), which featured 'yakusha nigaoe' (pictures of likenesses of actors) and challenged the traditional dominance of theatre illustration by the Torii school. In Ehon butai ogi, Buncho depicted 'onnagata' (kabuki actors playing female roles), while Shunsho illustrated 'kata keyaki' (kabuki villains). Buncho abandoned yakushae in 1772. From 1769 to 1774 he designed bijinga, including Chayamusume Kasamori Osen (Osen of the Kasamori teahouse; untraced) and Miko no Ohatsu (The miko Ohatsu; untraced). His women have high noses, pointed eyes, flat foreheads, thick eyebrows and pursed lips, giving them a cynical, sterile charm. His movements after 1774 are unknown, but a memorial 'surimono' (printed object; de luxe print) printed after his death suggests that he remained active in the art world until his death in ca. 1794. His students included Kitsu Buncho, Bunko and Tamagawa Shucho.

[Megakles Rogakos 01/2008]

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