Size: high 38.5cm, wide 26cm
This beautiful portrait of Onoe Fujaku III (1793–1831) shows the Osaka actor as a samurai garbed in a brilliant purple surcoat with paulownia crests, covering armor that has a breastplate in the form of a demon mask with piercing eyes.
The same woodblock is exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/843990). A same one has been sold by Christie's for $10.350 (https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-168161).Object Literature: The little known artist Seiyōsai Shunshi was said to have studied under Shunkōsai Hokushū, and all of his known works are actor portraits. We can assume that, like many Osaka print artists, he was a wealthy Kabuki fan who created print designs as an avocation, not profession.
Object History: From the collection of Arthur Halcrow Verstage. Arthur Halcrow Verstage (1875-1969) was an architect who spent much of his career in the public sector. He was a student at the Royal Academy School of Architecture in the 1900s and was elected as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1902. By 1903 he was a student and assistant at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (later known as the Central School of Art and Design) in London where William Lethaby was principal and a great influence on him. He then oversaw the design of the new school in Southampton Row from 1905-8. From here he became an architect for London County Council and was involved with many London societies, and as a founding member of the Kelmscott Fellowship, a forerunner to The William Morris Society. His large and varied collection was a reflection of his wide interest in the arts. His archive was purchased by The William Morris Society in 2005.