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THE ARTIST – TOYOKUNI III

Also known, as Utagawa Kunisada, the Japanese woodcut block artist was recognized more as Utagawa Toyokuni II.  Of all Ukiyo-e style artists in the 19th century, Toyokuni III was considered the most popular, most financially successful, and definitely most prolific.  While there were many other exceptional painters during this same time to include Kuniyoshi and Hiroshige, Toyokuni III ranked at the top. 

Toward the completion of the Edo period, three of the most spectacular Japanese woodcut artists in Edo, which is today’s Tokyo, were Kunisada, Hiroshige, and Kuniyoshi.  While these three were top representatives of Japanese prints, collectors from the United States and Europe deemed these same prints inferior during the latter part of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century.  In fact, many collectors viewed the work as a direct link to the downfall of woodblock prints using the Ukiyo-e styling. 

However, the 40 years, spanning 1930 to 1970 involved works from Kuniyoshi and Hiroshige being reconsidered.  This time, the results were quite different with both artists being labeled as sheer geniuses, masters of this special art.  As far as Kunisada, little is known about his life other than him being born in Honjo in 1786.  His family owned a simple ferry service and while this left the family financially stable, the father was interested in writing poetry.  Unfortunately, one year after Kunisada’s life, his father passed away, leaving the young baby with just one parent. 

To help him with the pain and challenges of being raised by just one parent, Kunisada began to sketch, only to discover his amazing talent.  In fact, the renowned master, Toyokuni from the Utagawa School, was so impressed that he brought Kunisada on board to teach.  At that time, Kunisada was given his new name according to Japanese custom - Utagawa Toyokuni II, which took the first part of his master’s name coupled with the first part of his name.  The result was “Toyokuni”, which then added the II, again, after the master. 

While Toyokuni actually had some of his work published in 1807, his full-sized prints did not show up until around 1810.  During this entire time, Toyokuni works faithfully on woodblock print illustrated books as well.  His style and attention to detail made him a popular artist. 

Interestingly, Toyokuni’s focus, natural ability, and exceptional teaching by his master soon had him being thought of as an equal to the master when it came to book illustrations, something no other Japanese artist had achieved.  His trend-setting ways made him a fascinating artist to watch and to immolate.  Although this incredible artist died in 1865 although his name lives on even today.


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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