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kabuki actor utagawa kunisada fine art print 1958


Kabuki Actor. Utagawa Kunisada. Fine Art Print. 1958.


£175 | $244 USD | €204 EUR
Item Number: SA816755
Date of manufacture: 1950
Current Status: For sale
Seller: The Lithograph Archive
This antique has been viewed 17 times in the past month with the most views from Russia.


Here offer fine art plates-prints (museum quality) from a vintage folio of Japanese Colour Woodblock prints or nishiki-e. In this collection we explore and celebrate the rich subject diversity of these astonishing plates.
The plate has been framed to the very highest standards in our fine art framing studio where we have produced hand-made and hand finished frames using premium Italian mouldings and conservation quality materials (acid free, non reflective and protective museum glass). Whilst the plate shown is in a gold frame we can offer a black or off-white at no extra cost - please contact us if you would like to explore this option.
A brief history of Japanese Woodblock Prints:
The year 1600 was a momentous one for Japan. It was then that Tokugawa Ieyasu seized power, unifying the country after years of conflict among rival warlords.
As shogun, he named Edo (modern-day Tokyo) as his seat of government, transforming the provincial backwater into a showcase for the nation’s new dawn.
By the mid-18th century, Edo was the largest city on Earth, with a population of one million. The Tokugawa dynasty would rule until 1868, and the era became known as the Edo period.
It was a time of peace and prosperity, and the arts flourished. Particularly splendid were the ukiyo-e (‘woodblock prints’) — works known for their unusual viewpoints, abrupt cropping, exquisite stylisation, and patches of vivid, unshaded colour.
In black and white: sumizuri-e
Japanese woodblock printing dates back to the 8th century, when it was used to reproduce texts, especially Buddhist scriptures. It wasn’t until the early 1500s that books were printed with illustrations, which in turn paved the way for standalone images. Initial images were black-and-white sumizuri-e prints made with black ink. An artist’s drawing would be transferred from paper to a cherry-wood block, which was carved and then inked, before blank sheets of paper were laid on top. Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-1694) was an acknowledged master, best known for his quasi-calligraphic line.
The introduction of colour: nishiki-e
Printing in more than one colour was tricky: it wasn’t until the 1740s that green and pink were tentatively introduced. A huge breakthrough came in 1765, when Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) mastered a process that accommodated an array of colours. The resulting prints were called nishiki-e (‘brocade pictures’). They were created by making a set of woodblocks, starting with the ‘key-block’ which has the outline fully carved in relief. The key-block was then printed, and the resulting proofs used to then make additional woodblocks, one for each area of colour. Each colour woodblock would then be printed in turn, using a registration system that would allow careful alignment of each block.
When we think of Japanese prints today, it tends to be the glorious, full-colour examples made after Harunobu that we have in mind. By the 19th century, artists were producing remarkably subtle effects such as the shifting tones of Hiroshige’s outstanding sunsets and expanses of water. The pursuit of pleasure: courtesans and kabuki actors The subject matter of ukiyo-e also evolved over the period.
To show their loyalty to the shogun, feudal lords were required to spend one year in Edo for every year they devoted to their family domains outside. They arrived in Edo with a retinue of samurai and other attendants, creating a large itinerant community. To entertain them, an official pleasure district, the Yoshiwara, was created. Its restaurants, teahouses, theatres and brothels proved equally popular with Edo’s new merchant class and turned its courtesans and kabuki actors into stars.
There was a market for pictures of these early celebrities, and woodblock prints — many being produced in larger and larger numbers at lower costs — were the ideal way to reach it. It seems th
A timeless and effortlessly sophisticated collection of highly decorative and professionally framed fine, rare, old and vintage hand coloured lithographs, chromolithographs, lithographs and etchings.


This item is antique. The date of manufacture has been declared as 1950.


Height = 65 cm (25.6")
Width = 55 cm (21.7")
Depth = 4 cm (1.6")

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The Lithograph Archive
United Kingdom

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