During the first period of his life, Sharaku drew five two-figure upper-body portraits. This is one of them, illustrating two people who appeared in a kyogen play entitled “The Iris Soga Story of the Bunroku Period (hana ayame omoino kanzashi)”. In these upper-body portraits, Shayaku always used contrast. In this portrait, Sharaku contrasts the thinner face of Ichimatsu Sanogawa and the round face of Tomiemon Ichikawa; as well as the slanting eyebrows of Ichimatsu and Tomiemon, and Ichimatsu’s triangular eyes and Tomiemon’s round eyes. In this way, he adds variety into the portrait. At a glance, this portrait seems to depict two people coming together unintentionally; however, this is simply another way of adding to the unique contrast. There is another portrait in which the character of Onayo is drawn alone, but in this portrait, the focus should be on the depiction of Tomiemon. His character of Toma Kanizaka was a villain, an unimportant character. Tomiemon gives off an air of being impoverished, which creates an interesting contrast with Onayo’s gaily apperance, who was a prostitute of Ichimatsu.
Ichimatsu Sanogawa III was very popular as a young onnagata (male actor of female roles in kabuki) at the time. Ichimatsu was the the first to wear the flagstone pattern (today called the genroku pattern), which became popular during the era. He also made the Ichimatsu pattern famous.