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Utagawa Toyokuni III. 1786-1864.

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Series: Yakusha Mitate: Actors at the 53 Stations of the Tokaido.

Date: 1852.

Size: vertical oban.

This is the artist's best series of actor bust portraits. The prints were designed to be diptychs; however most of the sheets appear singly.

The information on the large screens has been provided by Horst Graebner's excellent website on the artist's prints: Kunisada.

This series poses actors in famous roles set against locations of the Tokaido. The views of the stations of the Tokaido are modified versions of those made famous by Hiroshige with his first version of the series published by Hoeido some twenty years earlier. The actors were identified by their roles only due to prohibitions at the time- but the audience would have recognized the actors based on the character titles and their features as portrayed by Kunisada.

Click on the images for larger screens; large screens are hyperlinked.

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Futakawa (Two Rivers). Station 34.

Actor: Futakawa: Actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV.

Role: Ishikawa Tomoichi.

Date: 1852 (rat 5.)

Censors's seals: Hama, Magome.

Publisher Sumiyoshiya Masagoro.

Carver: Horitake.

Signed: Toyokuni ga.

Size: vertical oban (14 x 10 inches).

Series: Actors from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido. Station 34.

Actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV.

Role: Ishikawa Tomoichi.

Date: 1852 (rat 5.)

Censors' seal: Hama, Magome.

Publisher Sumiyoshiya Masagoro.

Carver: Horitake.

Signed: Toyokuni ga.

Size: vertical oban (14 x 10 inches).

Gauffrage (embossing) in the actor's robe. Sight soiling in the actor's right cheek; otherwise good condition and color. $300.

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Shono.

Series: Actors from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido. Station 46.

Date: 1852 (rat ).

Actor: Bando Hikosaburo IV .

Role: Nakano Tobei.

Publisher: Sumiyoshiya Masagoro.

Censors' seals: Hama, Magome.

Signed: Toyokuni ga.

Size: vertical oban (14 x 10).

Gaufrage (embossing) in the actor's robe. Light soiling in the actor's cheek; good color. $300.

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Yoshiwara.

Series: Actors from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido. Station .

Actor: Arashi Rikan III.

Role: Tonase.

Play: Kanadehon Chushingura.

Date: 1852 (rat 3).

Censors' seals: Mera, Watanabe.

Publisher: Izutsuya Shokichi.

Carver: Horitake.

Signed: Toyokuni ga.

Size: vertical oban (14 x 10 inches)

Good color and condition. Embossing in the collar. $300.

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Born in the Honjo district of Edo as Kunisada Tsunoda, Kunisada’s family owned a small hereditary ferryboat service. Though his father, an amateur poet, died when Kunisada was a child, the family business provided some financial security. During his childhood, he showed considerable promise in painting and drawing. Due to strong familial ties with literary and theatrical circles, he spent time studying actor portraits. At age 14, he was admitted to study under Toyokuni, head of the Utagawa school. Kunisada’s work embodies the characteristics of the Utagawa school, focusing on traditional subjects such as kabuki, bijin (beautiful women), shunga (erotic prints), and historical prints. His first known print dates to 1807, his first illustrated book to 1808. Kunisada’s career took off from the beginning. Many of his works became overnight successes and he was considered the “star attraction” of the Utagawa school. He signed his works “Kunisada,” sometimes with the studio names of Gototei and Kochoro affixed.

In 1844, he adopted the name of his teacher and became Toyokuni III. Kunisada passed away in 1864 in the same neighborhood that he was born. He was 70 years old. Kunisada was a highly popular, and the most active, ukiyo-e artist of the 19th century. In his time, his reputation surpassed those of his contemporaries Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.

Traditional Japanese Prints.

Twentieth-century Japanese prints.

Allinson Gallery, Inc.

To order, to request more information or to be placed on the email list, please contact Jane Allinson (jane@allinsongallery.com) or fax 860-429-2825.