I’ve lost count of the number of times people ask me why is there a Toyokuni II and a Toyokuni III and is there a Toyokuni IV? When I answer that yes there is, but he’s really called Kunisada II and that Kunisada the IV is really called Baido Kunimasa it all gets very complicated. The e-blogger essay that accompanies the show tries to simplify this a bit and thinking about the issue prompted a show that spans the years that defined the great Utagawa School to which all these artists belonged.
The current online exhibition at the Toshidama Gallery takes twenty four prints from fifteen different artists, spanning the decades of the nineteenth century. The show covers all the major genres… there is the superb and very rare beauty print by Toyokuni II - a rare azuri-e; a fantastic musha-e triptych by Yoshikazu of the battle of Yashima which makes a fine adjunct to the more common Dan-no-ura scenes. Some superb kabuki triptychs; two from Yoshiiku, one of which shows the delightful Funanorikomi Boat Procession from 1863.
Landscape is represented by an outstanding Hiroshige print from the One Hundred views of Edo and two lovely Kunichika that retell the Tale of the Genji (Genji Monogatari) for modern times. We have mitate prints from the height of the censorship laws of the 1840’s from Kuniyoshi in the shape of a beautiful mirror picture comparing actors with flowers and trees, and from Kunisada with the exquisite Tokijiro from the Thirty-six Imaginary Poets. The shows ends with a superb triptych of breathtaking quality by the Meiji artist Kokunimasa.
We hope you will enjoy browsing the show and find something that takes your interest. Further essays on Japanese Woodblock Prints, and other aspects of Japanese culture can be found at our Wordpress and Eblogger sites.