Utamaro (1753 - 1806 )

Best known for his slender and graceful bijin-ga, or "pictures of beautiful women," Utamaro is one of the masters of Japanese woodblock printing. He is renowned for his ability to subtly capture the personality and private lives of Edo's women, from courtesans to mothers. Utamaro’s enormous popularity was not limited to Japan. During the 19th century, Utamaro's ukiyo-e designs entranced Western artists and collectors. Mary Cassat was particularly taken by Utamaro’s woodblock prints, exclaiming, “you who want to make color prints, you couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful.”1

The scholar and artist Sekien served as Utamaro’s teacher until Seiken’s death in 1788. While the influence of Kiyonaga coursed through Utamaro's early woodblock prints, his 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. 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.

 

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

Japanese Woodblock Prints (1600 - 1800)

63 Products

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Peony

Utamaro

Peony

JPR-209540

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Yoshiwara Niwaka Festival

Utamaro

Yoshiwara Niwaka Festival

JPR-209156

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Act II: The Palace

Utamaro

Act II: The Palace

JPR-103795

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Yoshiwara Niwaka Festival: The Second Set of Performances

Utamaro

Yoshiwara Niwaka Festival: The Second Set of Performances

JPR-209157

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Flourishing Port of Takase

Utamaro

Flourishing Port of Takase

JPR-209155

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Horsefly and Green Caterpillar

Utamaro

Horsefly and Green Caterpillar

JPR-100435

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Kanbara

Utamaro

Kanbara

JP-208183

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Fukusuke (Bringer of Good Luck)

Utamaro

Fukusuke (Bringer of Good Luck)

JP-208353

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Akashi and Matsuga of the Tamaya House

Utamaro

Akashi and Matsuga of the Tamaya House

JPR-208604

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Morning in the Temporary Lodgings of the Yoshiwara

Utamaro

Morning in the Temporary Lodgings of the Yoshiwara

JPR-208597

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Kisegawa of the Matsubaya

Utamaro

Kisegawa of the Matsubaya

JPR-208609

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Sanbaso

Utamaro

Sanbaso

JPR-208603

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Yamauba and Kintaro

Utamaro

Yamauba and Kintaro

JPR-208602

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Hour of the Hare: Servant Women

Utamaro

Hour of the Hare: Servant Women

JPR-208536

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Two Lovers by Candlelight

Utamaro

Two Lovers by Candlelight

JPR-208422

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Abalone Diver and Kappa

Utamaro

Abalone Diver and Kappa

JP-208267

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Courtesan Komurasaki from Tamaya

Utamaro

Courtesan Komurasaki from Tamaya

JPR-207799

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Beauty Holding a Fan

Utamaro

Beauty Holding a Fan

JP1-43940

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Cone-headed Grasshopper and Praying Mantis

Utamaro

Cone-headed Grasshopper and Praying Mantis

JPR-100439

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Under Blossoming Cherry Tree

Utamaro

Under Blossoming Cherry Tree

JPR5034

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Maple Viewing

Utamaro

Maple Viewing

JP5127

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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

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The Courtesan Hitomoto of Monjiro

Utamaro

The Courtesan Hitomoto of Monjiro

JP-110878

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