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Utagawa Kunitoshi (1847-1899)

Biographical Data


Source: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, et. al., Hotei Publishing, 2005, Volume 2, p. 504 and Japan Wikipedia https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%AD%8C%E5%B7%9D%E5%9B%BD%E5%88%A9

Utagawa Kunitoshi (1847-1899) 歌川国利 (歌川邦年)

Little is known about this artist's life. It is reported that his real name was Yamamura Kiyosuke 山村清助, which can also be read as Yamamura Seisuke. A pupil of Utagawa Kunisada I (1786–1865) and Utagawa Kunitsugu (1800–1861).  Following Kunisada’s death in 1865 he studied under Utagawa Kunisada II (1823-1880).  He produced Yokohama-e and kaika-e, depicting horse-drawn streetcars and the like, and meisho-e, illustrating Meiji-era Tokyo.  He also made etchings (e.g., Street of Tokyo: Horse-drawn Rail Carriages Crossing the Manseibashi Bridge (Tokyo shigai tetsudo basha Manseibashi tsuko no kei,1882) and View of the Ocean from Atagoyama (Atagoyama sanjo yori kaijo miharashi), from the set Famous Sights of Tokyo (Tokyo meisho, 1890.) 

The British Museum reports that he used the gō (artist names) Hara (原); Ichiunsai (一運斎), although I have not seen any signatures of the artist that reflect this.

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 WoodblockPrints, 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, Utagawa Kunihisa (act. c. 1800-20) and Utagawa Fusatane (act. 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.

An Interesting Woodblock Print by the Artist

Utagawa Kunitoshi, 1881
Mimochi on’na natsu no tawamure – Gotō juttai no zu
Pregnant women playing in summer heat - 5 heads with 10 bodies

A Sampling of Signatures and Seals

Kunitoshi ga
Baiju Kunitoshi ga / Baiju and Kunitoshi seals

Baiju Kunitoshi bosha? / Baiju and Kunitoshi seals
Baiju Kunitoshi ga / Toshidama seal
ōju Kunitoshi / Kunitoshi seal

Kunitoshi giboku / unread seal

Kunitoshi ga
Kunitoshi bu

Baiju Kintoshi
Baiju Kunitoshi hitsu
Baiō Kunitoshi hitsu/
Baiju 楳寿 and Kunitoshi 国剛 seals
Baiju Kunitoshi bu?

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