Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art
A Framed Actor Print by Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - Edo

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Ichiban Japanese & Oriental Antiques
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A Framed Actor Print by Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - Edo
This is an interesting print by Kunisada from his series titled “The Breezy Lantern Series”. It shows a famous actor's portrait on a paper lantern and is titled “Portrait of Sasaki Saburo Moritsuma “(A Genji Warrior of the Heike) from the Noh drama “Fujito”.

The registration and the colors in the print are excellent– the garment worn by the actor has a particularly colorful geometric design. There is no toning evident – we have not examined the print out of the frame as it is so nicely framed. There are a couple of light smudges on the image. The print’s image is of oban size – 14 ½” by 9 ½” – the framed size is 20 ½” by 15 ½”. It is dated 1840 – with the name of the engraver Hori Taki (meaning carved by Taki) - the publisher is Dansedo Hori Ibaya Sensaburo. The print is signed Tokokuni-ga with Kunida’s character seal.

Utagawa Kunisada (1786 - 1865) (Japanese -also known as Utagawa Toyokuni III was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. At the end of the Edo Period (1600 – 1867), Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi and Kunisada were the three best representatives of the Japanese color woodcut in Edo (capital city of Japan, now Tokyo). He was highly active in the area of bijin prints (comprising about 15% of his complete works), and their total number was far higher than any other artist of his time.

Almost from the first day of his activity, and even at the time of his death in early 1865, Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Always at the vanguard of his time, and in tune with the tastes of the public, he continuously developed his style, which was sometimes radically changed, and did not adhere to stylistic constraints set by any of his contemporaries.

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