Utagawa Toyomaru (Katsukawa Shunro II) (active 1785–1797) Actor Portrait, 1790's. Hosoban.
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These early hosoban actor portraits have a real quality of earnestness. They come relatively near the beginning of the ukiyo-e genre, and given their age and their delicacy they are rare and considered highly collectible.
Toyomaru was an early pupil of Toyoharu, one of the founders of the spectacularly successful Utagawa School, and taking the name Utagawa, comes within the fairly strict remit of the gallery to deal mainly with Utagawa School artists or their heirs! He was also a pupil of the great artist Shunsho and sometimes took the name Katsukawa Shunro II after Hokusai had abandoned it in 1796. Little or nothing is known about him but he is well regarded as an early exponent of the Utagawa style and therefore an influential artist. His work is rare but appears in major collections such as the MFA in Boston. The piece here is seemingly unknown, which makes it rarer still. It is a very pleasing example of an actor portrait from the later part of the eighteenth century. An actor stands in front of a pastoral backdrop, holding a sword; it is beautifully drawn, the impression is very good indeed and condition is fine considering the age.
33 x 13 cm.