19th CenturyJapaneseWoodcut

Kabuki Actor on a Boat under Cherry Blossoms – Utagawa Kunisada

Utagawa Kunisada  歌川国貞 (1786-1865) was one of the most successful and prolific Japanese woodblock printmakers, and was particularly known for his Kabuki theatre scenes and depictions of beautiful women.  This beautiful Oban format ukiyo-e woodblock print would have originally been part of a Triptych.  It shows the a Kabuki actor on a boat under a branch of cherry blossoms.  An accompanying sheet indicates that this is the actor Iwai Towaka (?)

Condition: The image is worn as shown and there is a crease running horizontally just above the actor’s head (this is less conspicuous to the eye than in this scan).

Utagawa Kunisada


Also known as: Toyokuni III or Utagawa Toyokuni III

Kunisada Utagawa was one of the most popular, prolific and commercially successful designer of Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) in the Edo period.  As a young man in Edo, he became an apprentice to Toyokuni, the great master of the Utagawa school, and followed in his footsteps as a producer of Kabuki and actor prints, celebrating known theatrical and demi-monde personalities of the period.  A well-known trendsetter in his time, he was constantly in the vanguard of fashion, and his style evolved again and again over his lifetime.