Kabuki Actors: Ichikawa and Iwai. c. 1860. 14 x 9 1/2 (sheet 14 x 3/4). Good color and condition. Soiling in the bottom right-hand; slight toning. Signed and sealed 'Kunichika hitsu'. $150.
Kabuki Actors Iwai and Ichikawa 1864. Oban diptych (14 1/8 x 19 1/4). Good color and condition. The print is not laid down or backed. The sheets are not joined together. Excellent color and condition. Signed and sealed 'Kunichika hitsu'. $275.
Born in 1835, Toyohara Kunichika grew up in the Kyobashi district of Edo in the midst of merchants and artisans. In 1848, at age 13, he was accepted as an apprentice into the studio of Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III 1786–1865).
Kunichika's work stands in contrast to that of many of his contemporaries as he persistently held onto the traditional style and subject matter of the classic Japanese woodcut, unaffected by new Western forms of art. His love of Kabuki inspired him to depict actors in their various roles and varying facial expressions. His skillful use of color and ability to translate the actor's depth of emotion onto the page makes his work some of the most dramatic ever produced. Later on in his career, Kunichika turned primarily to the triptych format as the increased size gave him the space to fully portray the drama and action of the characters represented
Source: University of Alberta Art Collection website: Kunichika.
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