Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861 )

The son of silk dyer, Kuniyoshi Utagawa was born into the Igusa family in Edo. Little is known about his very early years, though he is said to have shown remarkable talent from a young age. Kuniyoshi began his ukiyo-e career as a pupil of Shunei. At age 14 he was accepted to study the art of woodblock printing under Toyokuni I and, in time, would become one of his most successful students. In 1814, he left Toyokuni’s studio to pursue a career as an independent ukiyo-e artist. Initially, he had little success, selling tatami mats in order to support himself. However, his fortunes changed in 1827 with his dramatic series 108 Heroes of the Suikoden. From that point forward, the public hungered for his portrayals of famous samurai and legendary heroes. Kuniyoshi Utagawa worked across all genres, producing some brilliant landscapes and charming bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women). He died in the spring of 1861 from complications of a stroke.

 

In direct contrast to the peaceful views of a scenic Japan provided by Hiroshige and Hokusai, the following decades saw a rise of the fierce, fearsome and fantastical in ukiyo-e. Kuniyoshi welcomed this changing public taste. He had a ravenous imagination and the full scope of his work reveals an aesthetic sensibility capable of capturing almost any experience. No doubt, however, his particular genius felt most at home in the world of martial glory, where epic battles decided the fate of empires and fierce warriors clashed to the death. Kuniyoshi's prints were so popular in his time that he received requests for tattoo designs.

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Kabuki Actor Sawamura Sojuro V as Yoemon

Kuniyoshi

Kabuki Actor Sawamura Sojuro V as Yoemon

JP-209803

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Kabuki Actor Ichimura Uzaemon XII as Doguya Jinzo

Kuniyoshi

Kabuki Actor Ichimura Uzaemon XII as Doguya Jinzo

JP-209775

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Woman with Fan

Kuniyoshi

Woman with Fan

JP-209786

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Poem by Mibu no Tadami: Hasebe Nobutsura

Kuniyoshi

Poem by Mibu no Tadami: Hasebe Nobutsura

JP-209774

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Hara Goemon Motooki

Kuniyoshi

Hara Goemon Motooki

JPR-209559

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Taira Masakado Expels Rokuro Kintsura from the Court

Kuniyoshi

Taira Masakado Expels Rokuro Kintsura from the Court

JP-110534

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Oribe Yahei Kanamaru

Kuniyoshi

Oribe Yahei Kanamaru

JPR-208655

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Nakamura Utaemon IV as Fortune Teller Sangokuken

Kuniyoshi

Nakamura Utaemon IV as Fortune Teller Sangokuken

JPR-209081

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Kabuki Actor Nakamura Utaemon IV as a Lion from the Play Grasses of Valor

Kuniyoshi

Kabuki Actor Nakamura Utaemon IV as a Lion from the Play Grasses of Valor

JPR-209080

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Rooster: Sasaki Saburo Moritsuna

Kuniyoshi

Rooster: Sasaki Saburo Moritsuna

JPR-209052

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Oboshi Yuranosuke and Oboshi Rikiya

Kuniyoshi

Oboshi Yuranosuke and Oboshi Rikiya

JPR-88898

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Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Teraoka Heiemon

Kuniyoshi

Actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII as Teraoka Heiemon

JPR-208548

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Hayano Kanpei, Ono Sadakuro, Yoichibei and Okaru

Kuniyoshi

Hayano Kanpei, Ono Sadakuro, Yoichibei and Okaru

JPR-92060

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Kan'u

Kuniyoshi

Kan'u

JP2058

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Omi and Suruga

Kuniyoshi

Omi and Suruga

JP5417

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Love Beside a Shi Shi Dragon

Kuniyoshi

Love Beside a Shi Shi Dragon

JP3637

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Iwasa Matabei in Tosa and Akamatsu Totamaru in Chikuzen

Kuniyoshi

Iwasa Matabei in Tosa and Akamatsu Totamaru in Chikuzen

JPR1-55465

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Wakamurasaki from the Tale of Genji

Kuniyoshi

Wakamurasaki from the Tale of Genji

JPR5585

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Poem by Lady Sagami: Okiku and Kyogoku Takumi

Kuniyoshi

Poem by Lady Sagami: Okiku and Kyogoku Takumi

JPR-92273

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Mutsuki: Large Daruma Kite in the New Year

Kuniyoshi

Mutsuki: Large Daruma Kite in the New Year

JPR-92268

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Maneko in Iki and Tairano Tomomori in Tsushima

Kuniyoshi

Maneko in Iki and Tairano Tomomori in Tsushima

JPR1-55484

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Sakata no KIntoki

Kuniyoshi

Sakata no KIntoki

JPR-104010

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Yoshida Chuzaemon Kanesuke

Kuniyoshi

Yoshida Chuzaemon Kanesuke

JP1-23719

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Ishiyama Temple: Adoring Lovers

Kuniyoshi

Ishiyama Temple: Adoring Lovers

JP-111782

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