Utamaro (1753 - 1806 )

Utamaro is one of the masters of Japanese woodblock printing. The scholar and artist Sekien served as Utamaro’s teacher until Seiken’s death in 1788. While the influence of Kiyonaga coursed through his early prints, Utamaro’s unique style soon asserted itself. A prolific artist, he also produced illustrated books and paintings. Around 1791, he directed his focus to half portraits of women on their own, rather than the full-length, group designs that dominated the genre of bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women). In 1804, he ran into legal trouble with the Tokugawa Shogunate for producing prints relating to a historical scene. The print depicted the 16th century ruler Hideyoshi with his wife and courtesans, entitled Hideyoshi and His Five Concubines. The work was deemed disrespectful and Utamaro was sentenced and imprisoned for a short time. Some believe that this broke his spirit, for he died in Edo two years later. Utamaro’s enormous popularity was not limited to Japan. He was one of the first ukiyo-e artists to be known in Europe and inspired many Western artists.

 

Utamaro is especially known for his portraits of women, renowned for his ability to subtlety capture their private lives. From courtesans to mothers, he offered a behind-the-scenes understanding of Edo’s women. Slender and graceful, Utamaro’s women bear small features and delicate color. He also produced many okubi-e (big-head portraits). During the 19th century, Utamaro entranced Western artists with his designs. Mary Cassat was particularly taken by Utamaro’s work, exclaiming, “you who want to make color prints, you couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful.” 1

 

1. Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Mary Cassatt: A Life. New York: Villard, 1994. Print, 194.

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Courtesan Komurasaki from Tamaya

Utamaro

Courtesan Komurasaki from Tamaya

JPR-207799

$19,000.00
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Waterfalls at Night

Utamaro

Waterfalls at Night

JP-94099

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Beauty Holding a Fan

Utamaro

Beauty Holding a Fan

JP1-43940

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Maple Viewing

Utamaro

Maple Viewing

JP5127

$800.00
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New Year's Day from Comic Poems for the Twelve Months

Utamaro

New Year's Day from Comic Poems for the Twelve Months

JPR5479

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Mother and Child

Utamaro

Mother and Child

JP5775

$8,800.00
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The Courtesan Hitomoto of Monjiro

Utamaro

The Courtesan Hitomoto of Monjiro

JP-110878

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Yamauba and Kintaro

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Yamauba and Kintaro

JP-111040

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Courtesans Hotomoto and Mototsue from Daimonjiya

Utamaro

Courtesans Hotomoto and Mototsue from Daimonjiya

JP-110982

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Preface for Ehon Mushi Erabi

Utamaro

Preface for Ehon Mushi Erabi

JPR-100907

$600.00
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Overnight Guest

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Overnight Guest

JP6116

$2,700.00
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Tree Cricket and Firefly

Utamaro

Tree Cricket and Firefly

JPR-100431

$2,800.00
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Horsefly and Green Caterpillar

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Horsefly and Green Caterpillar

JPR-100435

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Evening Cicada and Spider

Utamaro

Evening Cicada and Spider

JPR-100433

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Katydid and Centipede

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Katydid and Centipede

JPR-100429

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Mole Cricket and Earwig

Utamaro

Mole Cricket and Earwig

JPR-100427

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Yaso Festival (Yaso no zu)

Utamaro

Yaso Festival (Yaso no zu)

JP6110

$480.00
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Adding the Colors to the Painting (Shoho haritsuke saiko zu)

Utamaro

Adding the Colors to the Painting (Shoho haritsuke saiko zu)

JP6126

$3,200.00
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Lantern Festival (Toro no zu)

Utamaro

Lantern Festival (Toro no zu)

JP6122

$1,400.00
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Moonlit Night in Mid-Autumn (Ryoya no zu)

Utamaro

Moonlit Night in Mid-Autumn (Ryoya no zu)

JP6120

$900.00
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Secret Flower Viewing (Naisho hanamino zu)

Utamaro

Secret Flower Viewing (Naisho hanamino zu)

JP6113

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Delivery of New Year Gifts in Naka-no-cho (Naka-no-cho Nenrei no zu)

Utamaro

Delivery of New Year Gifts in Naka-no-cho (Naka-no-cho Nenrei no zu)

JP6111

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First Meeting (Shokai no zu)

Utamaro

First Meeting (Shokai no zu)

JP6036

$1,100.00
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Niwaka Festival (Niwaka no zu)

Utamaro

Niwaka Festival (Niwaka no zu)

JP6115

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