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Utagawa Kokunimasa (1874-1944)


Biographical Data

Biography

Utagawa Kokunimasa 歌川 小国政 (1874 – 1944)

Sources: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints:1900 – 1975, Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii. 1992, p. 164; Ukiyo-e Caricatures website http://kenkyuu.jpn.univie.ac.at/karikaturen/en/kunstler.htm ; The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, Volume 2, p. 503, Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900, Andreas Marks, Tuttle Publishing, 2010, p. 176; Japan wikipedia entry http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%AD%8C%E5%B7%9D%E5%9B%BD%E6%94%BF_%285%E4%BB%A3%E7%9B%AE%29

There is confusion about the true identity of this artist who may be credited with work belonging to two different artists, the second of which may have signed his work Kunimasa V (which appears on a few prints in 1891.)  What most sources agree on is that he was born in 1874 and was the eldest son of 
Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920), who was also known as Kunisada III, Baidō Hōsai, Baidō Kunimasa and Toyokuni V.)  In addition to Kokunimasa, meaning "Kunimasa Junior," he used the  (artist names) Baidō 楳堂 and Ryūkei or Ryūa 柳蛙.  His first work appears in 1889 when, if his date of birth is correct, he was only fifteen years old.  He produced humorous pictures, caricatures, actor portraits, genre pictures and Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese war prints.  He signed Sino-Japanese War prints Kokunimasa and his Russo-Japanese prints Ryukei. 

His death date is commonly given as 1944, but his Japanese wikepedia entry gives his date of death as 1923, if I am translating it correctly.


Signatures


 梅堂小国政筆
Baidō Kokunimasa hitsu
with Toshidama seal
1897
 小国政 
Kokunimasa
with plum blossom seal
柳蛙
Ryūa
with frog seal
1899
柳蛙 
Ryūa with square "Edokko" seal
(from Russo-Japanese War Print)
1904