Kunisada II, Utagawa

Utagawa Kunisada II (歌川国貞, 1823 – 20 July 1880) was a Japanese ukiyo-e print designer, one of three to take the name “Utagawa Kunisada”, and later headed the Utagawa school. A pupil of Utagawa Kunisada I, he signed much of his early work “Kunimasa III” with his earliest known prints date to 1844. Kunisada I adopted him in 1846 after he married the master’s daughter Osuzu. He took the name Kunisada II c. 1850–51, about the time he inherited the house of Kunisada I. He changed his name once more following his master’s death, to Toyokuni III. However, since there were three artists called Toyokuni before him, Kunisada II is now often known as Toyokuni IV.

Kunisada II worked in the style of his master, but never achieved the same level of success. His prints include over 40 series, mostly of actors (yakusha-e), as well portraits of beauties, illustrations of scenes from literature, erotica, and other subjects. He illustrated nearly 200 books.