Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞)

Kunisada UTAGAWA (1786- January 12, 1865) was an Ukiyoe artist in the Edo period. He is known for his characteristic Bijinga (a portrait of a beautiful woman) which has an oval face with a bull neck. He was Toyokuni UTAGAWA the third. People have different perspectives about his art work before and after his death. After he succeeded the name Toyokuni, he kept his studio stable and published many pieces, thus the number of his work was the largest among the Ukiyoe artists. His real name was Shogoro SUMITA. He later changed his name to Shozo (庄蔵 or肖造 in two different types of writing).

His pseudonyms were Gototei, Kachoro, Ichiyusai and so on.

"Edosunakosaisenki" written in 1853 described that 'Toyokuni UTAGAWA was best known for portraits, Kuniyoshi UTAGAWA for samurai, and Hiroshige UTAGAWA for landscapes.'

Brief personal history

In 1786, he was born into a family which lived by owning stocks in Watashibune (a ferry) bussiness at Itsutsume in Tatekawa, Edo Honjo (Sumida Ward, Tokyo). He started studying Toyokuni in his mid teens and later changed his name to Kunisada. He started drawing illustrations around 1807 and also started drawing illustrations in pornographic books in 1825. He begun studying with Ikkei HANABUSA in 1830. He claimed himself to be Toyokuni the second in 1845. He became a monk and changed his name to Shozo in 1845. He died at the age of 79 in 1865. His grave is at Komyo-ji Temple in Kameido.

Succeesion of Toyokuni the second

Toyoshige UTAGAWA also called himself Toyokuni the second, however, Kunisada claimed himself to be Toyokuni the second on an anniversary day of Toyokuni's death in 1844.

A successor to Kunisada

Kunimasa UTAGAWA the third (1823-1880) who was a student of Kunisada succeeded Kunisada the second. In 1846, he married with the eldest daughter of Kunisada to be his son-in-law, and he succeeded Kunisada the second. He also called himself to be Toyokuni the third, which caused a stir in 1870.

Kunimasa the fourth (1848-1920) succeeded to be Kunisada the third. His real name was Shigehisa TAKEUCHI. His childhood name was Kitaro. He studied under Kunisada since he was a child and continued his study under Kunisada the second after Kunisada's death. He succeeded to be Kunisada the third in 1889.

His works

"Otsu Miyage Domo no Matahei Meiga no Sukedachi," bound illustrated books

"Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji," bound illustrated books

"Edo Meisho Hyakunin Bijo," a collection of a hundred large-sized prints

"Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi," a collection of 56 medium-sized prints

"Sohitsu Gojusan-tsugi," a collaborated collection of 55 large-sized prints of portraits by Kunisada and of landscapes by Hiroshige.