• NameUtagawa Kuniyoshi
  • Activity/Titlekonstnär
  • Sexmale
  • Variant namesUtagawa Kuniyoshi
  • Nationality/DatesJapanese, born 1797 or 1798, born 1797, dead 1861-04-14
  • PlacesPlace of birth: Tokyo, Japan
    Place of death: Tokyo, Japan
BiographyUtagawa Kuniyoshi [Igusa Yoshisaburō, Magosaburō; Ichiyūsai, Chōōrō]

(b Edo, 1797; d Edo, 1861).
Painter, woodblock print designer and book illustrator. He was born into the urban artisan class of Edo (Edokko), the son of a silk dyer. As a child he showed a flair for drawing. Biographies mention his boyhood fascination for picture books by KITAO SHIGEMASA and Kitao Masayoshi (1764–1824) and his contact with the works of Katsukawa Shun’ei and Katsukawa Shuntei (1770–1820). Kuniyoshi’s formal training took place from 1811 to 1814, when he was apprenticed to Toyokuni I, from whom he learnt the Utagawa style of yakushae (‘pictures of actors’) and bijinga (‘pictures of beautiful women’). Kuniyoshi launched his career in 1814 with the illustrations of Gobuji Chūshingura (e.g. Tokyo, N. Diet Lib.). Single-sheet actor prints followed in 1815, and his first triptych was published in 1818. His early work is indistinguishable from that of Toyokuni’s other students, who included (5) Kunisada I and ANDŌ HIROSHIGE. He achieved a professional breakthrough in 1827 with the publication of the first five designs for the series Tsūzoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori (‘The 108 heroes of the popular Suikoden’; 1827; parts in Springfield, MA, Mus. F.A.). In these dynamic mushae (‘pictures of warriors’), Kuniyoshi found his métier. His series was inspired by the Japanese translation of the Suikoden (Chin. Shuihu zhuan; ‘Tales of the water margin’; late 16th century) by Takizawa Bakin (1767–1848). That serial publication began in 1805 but was halted two years later. Kuniyoshi’s polychrome designs show the influence of KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI’s monochrome illustrations for the novel. It may have been due to the popularity of Kuniyoshi’s prints that the project was restarted in 1829, with Takai Ranzan as the translator and Hokusai as illustrator.

During the 1830s–1850s Kuniyoshi was a leading print artist. The full range of ukiyoe subjects is represented in his oeuvre, estimated at c. 20,000 designs. He produced yakushae, bijinga, landscapes, studies of marine life, mitatee (‘parody pictures’) and illustrations of combat and horror stories, in both single-sheet series and triptychs (see fig.). He was fined under the Tenpō Reforms (1841–3) for violating a short-lived prohibition against yakushae. A triptych of 1843, Minamoto no Yorimitsu-kō no tachi ni tsuchigumo yōkai nasu no zu (‘Minamoto Yorimitsu and the earth spider’; e.g. London, V&A), also earned him mild censure from the authorities when it was deemed to contain political satire. On the whole, however, his depictions of historic warriors were welcomed by the public and shogunate alike. His most significant students were Yoshitoshi (1839–92), Yoshitora ( fl c. 1850–80) and Yoshikazu ( fl c. 1850–80).

[Källa: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/ 2014-07-25]
Lady in Blue with a Parasol