Kunikawa Utagawa was a printmaker from Osaka. The Osaka printmakers are known among collectors of Japanese prints for their production of kabuki theater prints and actor portraits in a somewhat peculiar style. Kunikazu however was more of an all-round artist. Apart from the theater prints, he made also landscape designs and even kuchi-e.
Best or not, Kunisada was quite successful and maintained a huge studio with many young students who may have produced a large number of the designs that were published under Kunisada's name.
The writer Laurance P. Roberts lists Kunikazu Utagawa in his Dictionary of Japanese Artists as a
"highly accomplished technician".
I am mentioning this only as a humerous side note as this aucthor usually regards all Japanese printmakers after Utamaro as hardly noteworthy examples of decline and as minor artists. How nice that this man does at least concede the status of a "highly accomplished technician".
But I should not be so harsh with these early writers. It was another time, and a different understanding of art, respectively artisan work.
Judging from our archive of sold prints since our foundation in 2001, most of Kunikazu's output were actor and kabuki theater subjects. But he made also a few landscape series. One is titled Hundred Views of Naniwa - Naniwa Hyakkei. Naniwa is another name for Osaka.
After the success of Hiroshige Ando (Hiroshige I) in the landscape genre, these Views of ... series had gained some popularity among the Japanese print buying public.
Woodblock prints by Kunikazu Utagawa are like most prints by Osaka artists, rather inexpensive and thus affordable for all kinds of art budgets.
Laurance, P.Roberts, "A Dictionary of Japanese Artists", John Weatherhill Inc., New York, 1976.
Author: Dieter Wanczura