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About Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)
Kunisada, also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. 

Kunisada was born in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1786, and his father (who died a year after Kunisada was born) was an amateur poet of some note. After showing a predilection for art (copying prints of Kabuki actors), he was accepted as an apprentice to Toyokuni I beginning around 1800 designing actor prints, the specialty of the Utagawa school. Eventually Kunisada branched out into bijin-ga, and even dabbled in landscapes and shunga.

In 1844, Kunisada assumed the mantle as head of the Utagawa school and changed his name to Toyokuni III (Toyokuni II being Toyoshige who had taken over as head of the Utagawa school after Toyokuni died). Due to a dispute with Toyoshige, Kunisada signed many of his prints Toyokuni II, a source of confusion ever since. He often collaborated with Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi on print series during the late 1840s and 1850s, when woodblock prints were in extraordinarily high demand in Edo. Kunisada outlived his contemporaries (one of his best prints is a memorial print of his friend Hiroshige), and his last years were marked by a resurgence in quality, as he did series with more inspiration than some of his mass-produced work of his middle years. Kunisada died in Edo in 1865.


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Kunisada - SOLD

Kunisada - SOLD

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Kunisada I

Kunisada I

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