Kiyonaga Torii

Kiyonaga was born in Uraga, the son of a bookseller, but moved at an early age to Edo. He was a pupil of Kiyomitsu, the third Torii master. He was also influenced by Harunobu, Koryūsai and Shigemasa. After Kiyomitsu’s death, he adopted the Torii name for the fourth generation. Between 1785 and 1811, he published some 120 illustrated books. In addition he produced numerous individual prints, series of three or more bijin-ga, musha-e and yakusha-e – the traditional stock-in-trade of the Torii school – along the surimono and fan pictures. In spite of his obligations to the Torii school, Kiyonaga went far beyond, what they attempted, in that he freed himself from stylised representations, creating portraits with realistic elements. In his theatre pictures, he incorporated the stage and the podium with its narrators and musicians, thus achieving a certain sense of depth. The general trend in ukiyo-e art towards greater naturalism and larger figures culminated in Kiyonaga. Well-proportioned beauties integrated into realistically portrayed settings, elegance and balance – these are the hallmarks of his work.

Kiyonaga Torii

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