BG. Arthur Davison Ficke


15. The Ghost of Sharaku. San Francisco: Grabhorn, 1951.

A foreword by ukiyoe collector Judson Metzgar explains the genesis of this unlikely verse drama, which was published in an edition of 250 six years after Ficke’s death: ‘A few days after Mr. Ficke visited the exhibition of Sharaku . . . at the New York Museum of Modern Art in April, 1921, he wrote to me: “The Sharaku exhibit is . . . beyond belief, wonderful,—seeing such fine examples of all his work brought together . . . . One day [ukiyoe collector Louis] Ledoux telephoned me and said he had had a dream in which he saw all the great collectors at the exhibition, and asked: Wouldn’t I write a poem about it? I told him No, and then five minutes later I found myself writing the enclosed skit.”’ The ‘skit’ follows, in free verse, set in the gallery during the exhibition. The dramatis personae are ghosts, of French ukiyoe collectors Charles Vignier and Raymond Koechlin, American collectors Howard Mansfield and Arthur Duel, the Daimyô of Awa, and the artist Sharaku. The French and American ghosts squabble about national tastes, Awa and Sharaku appear, and the latter, wordless throughout, brings the drama to its climax and closure by performing a dance from the nô before disappearing into a print of a ‘Demon Queller’. Includes passing reference to Harunobu (Ap).





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