|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
|Lit. large head depictions. A common type of *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 print created by artists to focus on an actor or a beautiful woman's head and upper body, usually a single human figure set against a plain background. Despite the term "head" kubi 首, as much as one-half of the figure (from just below the waist) including arms and hands engaged in some activity (such as assuming a pose, mie 見得 at a climatic moment in a *kabuki 歌舞伎 play or writing a letter) may be shown. Ookubi-e which focus in on the face (and shoulders) of a human figure are often called *oogao-e 大顔絵. The close-up range of ookubi-e allowed the designer to emphasize particular facial features, expression, make-up or poses of favorite actors in popular roles or to capture a particularly feminine gesture. Precursors of the type can be found as early as some *Toriiha 鳥居派 actor prints *yakusha-e 役者絵 of 1716-36. Most agree that Katsukawa Shunshou 勝川春章 (1726-92) and his follower Shunkou 春好 (1743-1812) established the compositional style for actor prints by the early 1780's. From the last years of that decade Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川歌麿 (1753-1806), Choubunsai Eishi 鳥文斎栄之 (1756-1829), Chouki 長喜 (fl. late 18c), Utagawa Toyokuni 歌川豊国 (1769-1825) and others adopted the style for memorable depictions of beautiful women. From the 1790's onward, their work was complemented by the ookubi-e actor prints of Shun'ei 春英 (1762-1819) and preeminently Toushuusai Sharaku 東洲斎写楽 (act. 1794), along with Toyokuni and Kunimasa 国政 (1733-1810) to make this the golden age of the type. Ookubi-e continued to be produced into the Meiji period, and today is considered by many today to be the most characteristic or instantly recognizable compositional format of ukiyo-e, especially its full-color prints *nishiki-e 錦絵.|
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