Kunichika & Kyosai, Famous Views for the 12 Months - 11th Month

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) and Kawanbe Kyosai (1831 - 1889) Famous Views for the Twelve Months - 11th Month, 1882. Oban.

This is a collaboration between two of the greatest woodblock artists of late nineteenth century Japan. Quite a rare piece, it shows two great contemporaries, Kunichika and Kyosai, working together on a series commemorating the twelve months with theatre subjects. Kyosai was a gifted artist and exact contemporary of Kunichika. He worked initially in the studio of Kuniyoshi - Kunichika in Kunisada’s atelier. Kyosai went on to become a gifted painter of the Kano School, but as Japanese traditions collapsed in the 1860’s, Kyosai was forced to work once again in woodblocks. Both artists were widely celebrated by critics and in contemporary newspaper articles and were well acquainted with each other, enjoying drunken brawls and frequent fallings out.

This series of twelve prints has actor portraits in the foreground set against landscapes and scenes painted in fan shaped cartouches by Kyosai in the fluid, Kano School style. In this print, Kunichika paints a dramatic portrait of the actor Ichikawa Sadanji I as the sixteenth century warlord Kato Kiyomasa, represented here in an extraordinary alien-shaped battle helmet. A tiger appears twice in the print, as a Korean tiger in the cartouche and just visible again in the bottom left of the print. Kyomasa invaded Korea in 1592 and the animals here are a reference to that campaign.

A fascinating print, bristling with incident and colour. The condition, colour and impression are all fine.

24 x 36 cm.