Toyokuni I, Michinosuke I as the Geisha Ohana

Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) Michinosuke I as the Geisha Ohana from the play Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki, 1805. Oban.

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Toyokuni is perhaps most associated with actor prints, a genre that he helped create and develop into a massive industry in nineteenth century Japan. Toyokuni responded to the growing public obsession with kabuki actors and the bulk of his output after 1810 (often criticised these days) is of stars of the kabuki stage.

His earlier work was in the tradition of the eighteenth century ukiyo artists such as Utamaro, later synthesising Utamaro’s mature style with that of his teacher Toyoharu and others to produce a mature style of his own. Toyokuni I was the co-founder of the Utagawa School of artists whose pupils included Kunisada (Toyokuni III), Kuniyoshi and Hiroshige - the three most famous ukiyo-e artists of the century - among dozens of other pupils and adherents, making Toyokuni perhaps the most influential ukiyo-e artist of all time.

This print from 1805 shows the actor Segawa Michinosuke I as the Geisha Ohana from the play Minoriyoshi Kogane no Kikuzuki.  The character is pulling a decorative hand cart with a plaited rope, (not pictured). This is a fine piece of work; the print is from the peak of Toyokuni’s best period and the colour especially is outstanding for its age. The impression is also fine and the condition excellent barring some minor paper repairs to the margins. The actor carries a fan inscribed with the name of the character. A copy of this print is in The Honolulu Museum of Art.

Published by Shimizu.

25 cm x 39cm.