Re:- Response to Andy and more questions.


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Posted by Arnold on May 01, 2003 at 21:48:29:

In Reply to: Re:- What is Shigeharu's Frog Rock Magical Mystery Story ? posted by Andy W. on May 01, 2003 at 04:12:36:

Andy,

John Fiorillo made the same point Ė Shijo-influenced that is a more accurate description. Iíd guess that Schwaab was trying to bring attention to this print, which succeeded, in my case.

I also picked up another print in auction that struck me as being similarly influenced and would appreciate your judgement. This print by Ashiyuki is also pictured in Schwaab (p 154, Fig. 146). Keene in his book on Osaka Prints (p.207) cites Ashiyuki as "the first to exploit the contrast between the broad, painterly style of the contemporary Shijo surimono and book illustrations that were appearing at the time with the precise and brilliant actor-print style " which may describe both prints.

Another feature, which may link the two prints, could be the block carver Kasute. Kasute carved the blocks for Frog Rock as can be seen from his seal on the copy pictured at www.japaneseprints.net (not .com Ė sorry). A red seal is barely present in the lower left-hand corner of my trimmed Ashiyuki print. Since my Ashiyuki print lacks the publisherís seal in the Schwaab version it may be a private edition that includes further information regarding the carver. A private edition of the Ashiyuki is apparently pictured in the Albert and Victoria Museum Catalogue 1. Iíve been trying to get ahold of this catalogue without success to see if a full sea(s) is present and would appreciate if anyone can help me.

I guess that I am trying to understand the story behind Frog Rock since it could provide clues as to what Shigeharu was trying to accomplish and may have succeeded at. Schwaab provides additional information including the name of the play which Iíve attached (see More Info entry). Is there any likelihood that the name of the play can lead one to a plot that would be helpful? I keep reading that Japanese prints subtly include hidden meaning, which might be heightened by the artistry but havenít found much in the way of a full analysis possibly because Iím not reading Andon!

I admit to being quite taken by the hidden Frog (toad?), influenced in part by its striking use in a Toyokuni I. This Toyokuni print from 1809 which may be the one you are referring to is pictured in "Masterful Illusions" (p. 121) by Donald Keene et al. It shows a giant toad breathing fire, a breath-taking conception for a stage performance. Perhaps Shigeharu utilizes the hidden frog (toad) to suggest a greater mystery that to me is further heightened by the use of the two much smaller figures amidst what is an unusually pictured mountain scene. A Hokushu from 1831, also beautifully reproduced in "Masterful Illusions", shows Arashi Rikan II next to two huge frogs (p. 169). The description states that Ogata Rikimaru played by Rikan is probably derived from that of Ogata Shume in Jiraiya.

Thanks so much for responding,
Arnold



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