This is one of Sharaku’s masterpieces, illustrating a role that appeared in “Koi Nyobo Somewake Tadune”, staged by the Kawarasaki-za Theather in May 1794 (Kansei 6). Ebizo’s facial expression is very impressive, almost as if he were alive, with the depiction of the eyes under the slanted eyebrows. You can practically hear his voice coming from the tightly pulled lips. The sharply curved facial line depicts the great dignity of art and appearance of Ebizo, who was acclaimed as the highest ranking actor of the era. Sharaku’s art of capturing the reality of objects is solidified in this work.
Ebizo Ichikawa renamed himself from Danjuro Ichikawa V in 1791 (Kansei 3). He was the son of Danjuro IV, and took over the name of Danjuro V from Koshiro Matsumoto in November 1770 (Meiwa 7). In a review at the time it was written, “Would like to have him a good medicine to make him build round”. Sharaku depicts his appearance very realistically. Ebizo was the leading figure of Edo kabuki during the Tenmei-Kansei period (1771-1801). His style was great and he was skilled in the art of kyogen, as well as being good at writing. He read haiku as a hobby for the rest of his life after his retirement. After retirement, he moved to Mukojima and was renamed Shichisaemon Naritaya. He appeared on the stage four more times, but only for enthusiastic requests. He died in October 1806 (Bunka 3) at the age of 66.