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Utagawa Fusatane (active 1854-1889)


Biographical Data

Biography

Utagawa Fusatane 歌川 房種 (active 1854-1889) was a student of Utagawa Sadafusa (active 1825-1850). His signatures include Ōsai (櫻斎), Isshōsai (一笑斎), and Ippyōsai (一瓢斎). His original name was Murai Seima (村井 静馬).  The dates of his birth and death are not known.  Various dates are given for his "active" periods with an earliest date of 1849 and the latest date being 1888.  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston lists 1854-1888 as his active period.

Source: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, p. 503
Act. c. late 1850s-70 – Edo/Tokyo print designer.  A pupil of Utagawa Sadafusa.  Fusatane produced fukeiga (pictures of landscapes), bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) and zokuga (pictures of manners and customs), including subject-matter of kaika-e (pictures of Japan's modernization).  His bijin reflect the drawing style of Utagawa Kunisada (1786 - 1865) and Sadafusa, while his landscapes were strongly influenced by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858).  His Genji mitata-e (parody pictures) sets include From Genji in the Four Seasons (Genji shiki no uchi, 8/1862).  At his best Fusatane could rise above ordinary, as in his series of uchiwa-e titled Complete Famous Places of Former Times (Kodai meisho soroi, c. 1847-52) featuring half-length portraits of beauties posed before Hiroshige-style views.  Other gagō: Isshosai, Ippyosai.

Two prints from his comic series Inochi No Youjyo Zen Aku Kagami (Reflection on Good and Evil for a Healthy Life) featuring the character for life, "inochi," are part of this collection.

A Second Rate Artist?

Source: The Maintenance of Tradition in the Face of Contemporary Demands: A Reassessment of Meiji Prints, Oikawa Shigeru, article appearing in The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, et. al., Hotei Publishing, 2005, Volume 1, p. 262.
As a consequence of the economies in print production that Meiji era publishers were trying to achieve "was the widespread practice of employing second-rate artists such as Utagawa Kunitoshi (1847-1899), Utagawa Kunihisa (active c. 1800-20) and Utagawa Fusatane (active c. late 1850s-70).  They could churn out slapdash, easy-to-produce designs, in contrast to masters like Utagawa Sadahide (1807-1873), Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889), Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892) and others whose compositions involved intricate line-work.

Signatures of Artist (A Sampling)

 
一笑斎房種画
Isshōsai Fusatane ga 1852
 
房種画
Fusatane ga within Toshidama cartouche 1854
 
房種画
Fusatana ga 1854

 應需 櫻斎房種
ōju Ōsai Fusatani hitsu with unread seal
1854

 
unread
1856
 
應需 房種画
ōju Fusatane ga with unread seal
1862

房種画

Fusatane ga within Toshidama cartouche
1862  

應需 房種?画
ōju Fusatani unread character ga 1862


應需 房種画
ōju Fusatane ga with unread seal
1862

桜斎房種
Ōsai Fusatani hitsu
1878

桜斎房種
 
Ōsai Fusatani 
1879

桜斎房種画
Ōsai Fusatani ga
1879

櫻斎房種
Ōsai Fusatani hitsu
1888

應需 房種
ōju Fusatane hitsu 1888
 
Isshōsai Fusastane ga
c. 1860s