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Utagawa (Shunsai) Toshimasa (?-1913)

Biographical Data


Utagawa (Shunsai 春斎) Toshimasa 歌川年昌 (?-1913)
[also known as Eda Toshimasa 枝年昌]

Other than his being a student of the great Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) until 1889, who acted as a rickshaw driver for his teacher and was adopted by another student of Yoshitoshi's, Eda Nenshō 枝年祥 (act. 1860s-1870s)1, little has been written about this artist who designed a number of sumo-e (wrestling prints) and senso-e (war prints) of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).  While most references to this artist simply list that he was active from about 1870 until 1905 (indicating that he might have also created some Russo-Japanese War prints), Andreas Marks provides definitive birth and death dates of 1866 and 1913.2 However, a birth date of 1866 would have made him too young to have designed the sumo prints carrying the Shunsai signature that are believed to have been issued between 1870 and 1875. (Of course, these attributed dates may be wrong.) Adding a bit of further confusion, there are sumo prints carrying the Shunsai Toshimasa signature issued in 1896, as also shown below.

This artist is also sometimes confused with an artist of an earlier generation named Katsukawa Shunsei (勝川 春斎) who was active from 1830 to 1840.

A Few Other Prints by the Artist
Most interesting of all the artist's work is the below triptych picturing the awakening of the sun-goddess Amaterasu after her self-imposed exile.

Iwato kagura no kigen (岩戸神楽之起顕) – Origin of Music and Dance at the Rock Door
Shunsai Toshimasa, Meiji 20 (1887)

東京 小錦八十吉
Tokyo, Konishiki Yasokichi
signed Shunsai hitsu, c. 1870-1875
千葉 小錦八十吉
Chiba, Konishiki Yasokichi (1866-1914)
signed Shunsai Toshimasa hitsu, 1896

Signatures and Seals Attributed to Artist
Shunsai hitsu
c. 1870/1875

Shunsai hitsu
c. 1870/1875

Shunsai Toshimasa hitsu

Shunsai Toshimasa with unread seal
Shunsai Toshimasa
c. 1870/1875
Shunsai Toshimasa with unread seal

Toshimasa with Toshimasa seal

Shunsai Toshimasa with Toshimasa seal

1 website of Yoshitoshi.net http://www.yoshitoshi.net/students.html
2 Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, Andreas Marks, Hotei Publishing, 2011, p. 573.

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