Katsukawa Shunko was born and worked in Edo. He began designing prints and illustrated books in 1771. The first student of Katsukawa Shunsho, Shunko is credited with creation of the “large-head” portrait. He first zoomed in on his subject in 1780, creating two aiban prints portraying no more than the actors’ face and upper chest. In 1788, he developed this concept further with a series of oban size large-head actor prints. These works are commonly considered the forerunners to the okubi-e of the mid-1790s. His printing career was halted at the age of 45 by a stroke which paralyzed his right side and limited him to painting with his left hand for the rest of his career. His works are currently included in numerous collections worldwide, including the British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world. - Pierre-August