Fashionable Samurai
Fashionable Samurai - Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
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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.

First Publication: July 2009
Latest Update: April 2014

Founder of the Katsukawa School

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.

The Katsukawa Pupils

The Tale of Ise - Poet Narihira
The Tale of Ise - Poet Narihira - Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
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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:

  • Shunkyoku, active 1772/1800.
  • Shunjo, active around 1780.
  • Shunei, 1762-1819.
  • Shunzan, active 1782/98.
  • Shundo, active ca. 1780/92.
  • Shuncho, active 1780/95.
  • Shunkaku, active 1789/1801.
  • Shunko, 1743-1812.
  • Shunrin, active 1784/1800.
  • Shunro, 1760-1849 (later: Hokusai Katsushika).

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.

More Woodblock Prints by Katsukawa Shunsho

Beauty and Dragon
Beauty and Dragon - Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
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Heroes with Long Swords
Heroes with Long Swords - Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
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Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa


Benkei and Yoshitsune
Benkei and Yoshitsune - Shunsho Katsukawa
Shunsho Katsukawa
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Dieter WanczuraAuthor: Dieter Wanczura

Literature source used for this biography of Katsukawa Shunsho

  • Friedrich B. Schwan, "Handbuch Japanischer Holzschnitt", 2003, IUDICIUM Verlag, Postfach 701067, D-81310 M√ľnchen, ISBN 3-89129-749-1.
  • Laurance, P.Roberts, "A Dictionary of Japanese Artists", John Weatherhill Inc., New York, 1976.

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