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Kunisada Utagawa (1786-1865) was a prolific and leading ukiyo-e artist of the first half of the 19th century - the late Edo period. As most of the Japanese print artists of the Edo period. He used a confusing number of names and signatures. This illustrated page tries to give a little bit of help.
First Publication: September 2009
Latest Update: April 2013
Japanese ukiyo-e artists could have cared less about all the mess and trouble that they caused to future generations of collectors of their art works by changing their names several times during their life times.
No matter how much you love old Japanese prints, for beginners of the art it is a real nuisance. My personal advice: It is tough to become an expert. If you are not the type for this kind of "inaccurate science", then rely on a trustworthy ukiyo-e-dealer.
Kunisada made no exception in this messy play. For me it was the straw that broke the camel's neck, when I learned many years ago that Kunisada had taken the name of Toyokuni II, although he knew that this name was already taken - by his intimate enemy, Toyoshige. But that is a different story - maybe for another article to be published one day on this site.
The following illustrated list is a wrap-up from our database of ukiyo-e signatures. In this database we have collected relevant signatures by Japanese ukiyo-e artists since 2001, the year of our foundation. The images on display were taken from sold Japanese woodblock prints by Kunisada Utagawa.
Kunisada used the name Gototei ca. 1811-1844.
This signature and the name Kunisada was used between 1801 and 1844.
Possible meanings of this signature are:
In 1844 Kunisada changed his name to Toyokuni - today referred to as Toyokuni III. After his name change he used a variety of signatures as seen here. The round, red circle that looks like a jewel is the seal of the Utagawa School. This seal is called toshidama.
The signature toyokuni ga was used by Toyokuni II before (Toyoshige or known as Hongo Toyokuni, 1777-1835).
The Japanese word azumamoto means "requested by publisher", oju means "by special request" and ninko stands for "by my own taste".
"kio" means "77 years old". Kunisada used these signatures in 1862 when he was 77 years old, respectively two years later when he had reached the age of 79 (1864-65), the age when he passed away. "Sai" stands for "years old".
Please note that Kunisada I was followed by Kunisada II and by Kunisada III. These guys too, used signatures that are similar by nature. I told you before, the genre of ukiyo-e is a messy science!
1263 sold object(s) by Kunisada Utagawa 1786-1864 in our Art Archive
14 signature(s) by Kunisada Utagawa in our Signature Database
Author: Dieter Wanczura
.. more about Dieter Wanczura
The images on this web site are the property of the artist(s) and or the artelino GmbH and/or a third company or institution. Reproduction, public display and any commercial use of these images, in whole or in part, require the expressed written consent of the artist(s) and/or the artelino GmbH.