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Yoshitora (fl. c. 1850 - 1880)

The Actor Bando Mitsugoro as Shindozaemon's Daughter Yushide

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: Designed 1862
Size (H x W): 14 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Ebisuya Shoshichi
Seals: Combined aratame and date seal, Horiko Ryuzo (carver seal)
Edition: late Edo/early Meiji
Signature: Yoshitora ga
Condition: Very good color and impression, faint surface soiling, small brown stain, sharp wood grain, embellished with embossing.

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From the play Karukaya Doshin Tsukushi no Iezuto.

This actor portrait belongs to an untitled series started by Kunisada and completed by Yoshitora. Intended as a capstone to Kunisada's accomplished career, this series of okubi-e (big head prints) was held to the highest standards of printing, from rich colors to delicate embellishments. This impression is no exception with its subtle bokashi and deep blue background. This design can be found in two editions—one with a solid blue background, one with lighter color and gradation.

About the artist

Yoshitora Utagawa lived and worked in Edo during the 19th century. The exact dates of his birth and death are unknown. He was an important pupil of Kuniyoshi. Yoshitora Utagawa worked in many different genres, from actor portraits to cityscapes of Tokyo, but he is best known for his warrior prints and Yokohama prints. With the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854, Japan opened to American trade at Yokohama. Yokohama-e present Japan's early impression of the Westerners arriving in this port city. Yoshitora was a leading designer of these prints, revealing the appearance and inventions of these foreigners. In addition, he produced prints of foreign scenes, based not on personal observation, but derived from Western engravings. Today, Yoshitora Utagawa's art can be found in such celebrated collections as the British Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.