Japanese Prints @ St. Kate's: Selections from the Archives & Special Collections at St. Catherine University

Utagawa Kunisada I

UTAGAWA Kunisada I  歌川国定

Alternative Names: Utagawa Toyokuni III (歌川豊国 三代), Yanagishima Toyokuni III (柳島豊国 三代)

Utagawa Kunisada I was a leading print artist of the late Edo period. His earliest published work can be traced to 1807 when he created the series Twelve Hours of the Courtesans. He took up kabuki book illustration through his teacher Utagawa Tokyokuni. Due to restrictions of the Tenpō Reforms (tenpō no kaikaku, 天保の改革), which banned certain kinds of frivolous content, Kunisada I shifted his subject matter between 1842 and 1843. Under this anti-luxury law, Kunisada I found artistic value in the anonymity of his female models. After the dismissal of the Tenpō Reforms in 1850, his work reached its apex through the inclusion of new techniques, such as the use of Western perspective. His work was followed by students Utagawa Kunisada II and Utagawa Sadahide.

Complete Triptychs by Utagawa Kunisada I
Three Kinds of Drunks in the Modern World

Marks, Andreas. Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900. Tokyo; Rutland, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 2010.

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