Toyokuni I Utagawa

Toyokuni Utagawa was one of the greatest masters of woodblock printing of the 18th century and is known even today for his images of beautiful women (bijinga) and actors (yakusha-e). During his time as the head of the Utagawa school of printmaking, he influenced numerous artists of the next generation, impacting the direction in which woodblock print designs would evolve in the 19th century. Born as the son of a puppet maker, artistry can be said to have run in the family. Toyokuni’s early education as a printmaker is linked to Toyoharu, but his early beauty prints are influenced by Kiyonaga and Shigemasa. Even though beauty prints made up the body of work of his early career, Toyokuni really came into fame once he moved his focus to depicting stage actors. Posters advertising kabuki plays and portraits of favourite actors were in high demand with adoring fans to the point that the artist grew unable to keep up with the growing amount of orders. This led to an increased number of students at the Utagawa school and caused people to belief that Toyokuni was the founder of the school when it was actually Toyoharu. Nonetheless, Toyokuni should be credited with shaping the Utagawa school into a well-run artistic enterprise. We know of 29 of Toyokuni’s students, the most famous ones being Kunisada Utagawa and Kuniyoshi Utagawa.

Toyokuni I Utagawa

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11 Items

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