Ueno Tadamasa, 1904-1970
Young Woman Lighting a Candle in front of a Hina Doll Display (possibly kabuki subject)
hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, with Taisho-style striped mounting suggestive of the black, red and green stripes traditionally associated with the kabuki theater; signed Tadamasa with artist's seal Katsumi, ca. 1940
painting 39 3/8 by 13 5/8 in., 100 by 34.5 cm
overall 72 1/2 by 16 1/8 in., 184 by 41 cm
Born with the name Ueno Katsumi, Tadamasa studied painting from a young age with Torii Kiyotada IV (1875-1941, the father of the famous shin hanga print designer Torii Kotondo). Kiyotada was the head of the Torii school, the family of artists that have been contracted to produce billboards and promotional materials for kabuki theaters for over three centuries, and as such, Tadamasa established a distinctive, highly stylized manner of depicting kabuki subjects that bear influence from the early ukiyo-e modes of the 17th and early 18th century.
The leading shin hanga publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) also published prints by Tadamasa. The first series was Eighteen Kabuki Makeups (Kumadori juhachi-ban) published in 1940-41 with one print issued each month and a bonus New Year's print; an additional series issued during the war illustrating distinctive kabuki makeup was titled as Zoku kumadori juhachi ban; and there was a scarce koban series also published by Watanabe. Tadamasa designed a series of full-length portraits of actors, Eighteen Kabuki (Kabuki juhachi-ban), published in 3 folios by Shokokusha in 1952-53. More prints (not dated) were published by Daireisha (the blocks mostly carved by Maeda Kentaro, active 1934-61). In 1949 Tadamasa was accepted as a member of the Torii school which allowed him to sign his work with that illustrious name. He designed magazine covers and signboards for the kabuki theater up until the year of his death.
His work is found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Saint Louis Art Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, Worcester Museum of Art, Scripps College, National Theater in Japan, and the National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo.
Helen Merritt, Guide to Modern Japanese Prints: 1900-1975, 1995, p. 162
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