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Katsukawa Shunsho was the founder of the Katsukawa printmaking school. He specialized in kabuki actor portraits. His great merit was to portray the actors as individuals in a way that they could be recognized by the viewer. Before, only stereotypes were shown and the characters could only be identified by text notes added to the woodblock print.
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Katsukawa Shunsho had learned Japanese style painting by Katsukawa Shunsui and Ko Sukoku before he began making woodblock prints. His early works were influenced by Harunobu Suzuki.
He soon specialized in bust and head portraits of actors that he designed with their individual characteristics. But also his 'bijin-ga' - images (paintings and woodblock prints) of beautiful women - are well-known and highly esteemed by today's collectors of ukiyo-e.
Katsukawa Shunsho had taught a great number of students the art of woodblock designing. The most famous one was Shunro, who later changed his name to Hokusai Katsushika and became immortal with such prints like The Great Wave off Kanagawa or Red Fuji from the series of 36 Views of Mount Fuji.
But Hokusai was not the only student of Katsukawa SHunsho who should gain fame in the world of ukioy-e. Her is a list of students from the Katsukawa School:
You may be astonished that all of Katsukawa's students have a name that starts with a Shu. These are actually artist names given by their master. And it was a habit to form this name from the first part of the master's name and from a part of the student's original name.
Author: Dieter Wanczura
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