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Utagawa Kuniaki II (1835-1888)

Biographical Data

Biography

Utagawa Kuniaki II 歌川国明 二代 (1835-1888)

Sources: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 95; The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, Volume 2, p. 503.

Utagawa Kuniaki II, was born to the Hirasawa (or Hirazawa) 平沢 family and later adopted by the Hachisuka 蜂須賀 family.1  His familiar name was Onojirō 斧二郎.  He was the younger brother of, or perhaps the same person as, the artist known as Utagawa Kuniaki I and the same prints are sometimes attributed to one or the other.  He studied with Utagawa Kunisada I (1786–1865) and in addition to Kuniaki 国明 he used the artist names () Hōsai 鳳斎, Ippōsai 一鳳斎, Ichiosai 一凰齋, Onojirō 斧二郎 and Hachisuka 蜂須賀.

His genre included prints of wrestlers (sumo-e), actors (yakusha-e), beauties (bijin-ga) and westerners (Yokohama-e). While considered a minor artist of his time, his print The Wrestler Onaruto Nadaemon of Awa Province (see below) became famous, as it is pictured in Manet's 1868 portrait of Emile Zola (see below.)

 
The Wrestler Onaruto Nadaemon
of Awa Province,
1860
Utagawa Kuniaki II (1835-1888)

Portrait of Émile Zola, 1868
oil on canvas 
Édouard Manet (1832–1883)


1 The British Museum website http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=146316 tells us of a different origin of the artist stating that Kuniaki's father, Tatsunosuke, was a minor samurai in the fourteenth division of castle guards.  


Signatures and Seals



Kuniaki ga
国明画
 
Kuniaki ga
国明画
within Toshidama cartouche
 
ōju Kuniaki hitsu
應需 国明筆

ōju Kuniaki hitsu
應需 国明筆
with manji seal

 
ōju Kuniaki 
應需 国明
with manji seal
 
ōju Kuniaki 
應需 国明
with manji seal
 
Hachisuka Kuniaki ga 
蜂須賀国明

Hachisuka Kuniaki hitsu 
蜂須賀国明筆 


Hachisuka Kuniaki hitsu 
蜂須賀国明筆
with manji seal  


Ippōsai Kuniaki ga
一鳳斎国明画
 
Ippōsai Kuniaki ga
一鳳斎国明画
within Toshidama cartouche