Kiyonaga (1752 - 1815)

Reaching for a Kiss

Series: Shikido Juniban
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1784
Size (H x W): 10 x 15 (inches)
Signature: Shunga are usually unsigned, therefore the artist is attributed
Condition: Very good color and impression, light soiling lower left corner, light centerfold.

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About the artist

The son of a bookseller and publisher in Uraga, Kiyonaga was born Shinsuke Sekiguchi in 1752. He moved to Edo in 1765 and began his art education in both printmaking and painting under the direction of Kiyomasu. Following the death of his master, Kiyonaga was adopted as the heir to the Torii family. He was a major printmaker in late 18th century Edo, influenced by the works of Koryusai, Shigenaga and Harunobu. From 1781 to 1788, Kiyonaga's woodblock prints dominated ukiyo-e with their depictions of bijin (beautiful women) and stylish scenes of Edo life. His work greatly influenced other ukiyo-e artists and he is recognized for his use of color and the maturity of his nishiki-e (brocade prints) and bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women). In 1787, Kiyonaga arranged for the Torii school to design kabuki signboards. This arrangement would eventually lead to the school’s virtual monopoly over the industry. Despite his immense popularity, Kiyonaga turned away from woodblock printing in 1790 to focus on painting.