06 Kunisada Utagawa

This is a psychedelic reimagination of the final battle of the Soga brothers to avenge their father's death. In the painting made by Kunisada Utagawa, Soga Goro Tokimune (right) - one of the Soga brothers - is fighting against a man named Goro-maru near Mt. Fuji.

Kunisada Utagawa was one of the prolific masters of ukiyo-e in the nineteenth century. His output is estimated at roughly 20,000 designs of woodblock prints showing kabuki actors, beautiful women, sumo wrestlers, erotic pictures and more. How was this possible? This article tries to shed some light on Kunisada's prints.

Kunisada was not only a good printmaker, but he also had a good sense for the commercial aspects of producing woodblock prints. This becomes obvious when you look at the print subjects on which he focused. Kunisada's main oeuvre were actor portraits and kabuki scenes. Other subjects of his print production were bijin (beautiful women), sumo wrestling, shunga (under a name alias), and the Genji Monogatari (The Tales of Prince Genji) subject.

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