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THE ARTIST – KUNICHIKA

This particular artist, Kunichika, was born in 1835.  As a serious student of Kunisada and Chikanobu, he took a part of each of his master’s names to create his own unique name, although his full name is Toyohara Kunichika.  Born just outside Tokyo, this artist’s name was originally Yasohachi Oshima.  As early as the age of 11, Kunichika took an interest in Chikanobu, the Ukiyo-e master.  Then by 13, Kunichika was allowed to begin an apprenticeship.  Although young, he soon started a name with a number of favorites although his most prized subjects were that of historical scenes, as well as Kabuki actors. 

In 1863, Kunichika created an amazing portrait of Kunisada.  His depiction was of a man with a very, thin fact, baldhead, and long nose.  One year later, Kunisada passed away, a time when Kunichika’s portrait became popular.  Although he is considered one of the most talented of all Ukiyo-e masters, history tells us that this artist was rather odd, an artist with a Bohemian type style. 

At the age of 26, Kunichika was married.  Soon to follow was a beautiful daughter named Hana.  Interestingly, history is somewhat controversial on what happened next, some saying that he left her and others saying she left him.  Regardless, what we do know is that Kunichika was fond of the women, having numerous companions.  Kunichika was also bored easily, which is why it is believed he moved more than 100 times in his lifetime. 

The one thing you cannot take away from Kunichika is his dramatic personality, almost to a point of being a show off.  We do know that this artist had a strong interest in drinking and visiting the local brothels.  However, Kunichika was also an amazing artist with a real passion for the Japanese theater, also known as Kabuki.  Many times, he would make his way backstage during performances so he could spend time sketching various actors. 

In addition to his actor prints, Kunichika was an amazing artist, capturing historic scenes and gorgeous women.  While he had many highlights during his life, he was given special credit by a Tokyo newspaper in 1865, 1867, and 1885.  We also know that his work was highly respected although he was never given the recognition that he so wanted by his master Kunisada.  His designs were relatively easy to spot, usually designed with rich red and deep purple, often as the background of his prints.  These colors were created with aniline dyes imported from Germany. 

Today, you can still find Kunichika prints, which cost anywhere from $10 to $600 or more.  One of the benefits to this artist’s creations is that the dye used does not fade.  Therefore, even the prints you would find in “good” condition would be exceptional and bright.  The only drawback is that this type of dye can bleed.  Therefore, it is recommended that you look carefully at any Kunichika prints or designs to ensure there is no to few flaws.  Although Kunichika died in 1900, he left behind many exceptional pieces to include a series of prints based on the Tale of Genji.


Read more about Japanese Woodblock Prints:
  Japanese Woodblock Prints   Ukiyo-e   Toyokuni Utagawa   Eisen Kikugawa   Hiroshige Ando   Utamaro Kitigawa

 

Visit our online store for dozens of Japanese Woodblock Prints

Click here to see our current selection.
 
The Great Wave by Hokusai
The Great Wave by Hokusai
Code:fw1002
Price:$27.95
Kabuki by Utagawa
Kabuki by Utagawa
Code:fw1121
Price:$27.95
3 Beauties by Utamaro
3 Beauties by Utamaro
Code:fw1118
Price:$27.95
General in Battle by Utagawa
General in Battle by Utagawa
Code:fw1120
Price:$27.95
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Code:fw1010
Price:$27.95
 

 


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