This print is by Utagawa Kunisada I, signing “Gototei Kunisada I”. It’s the right sheet of a kabuki triptych depicting Ichimura Uzaemon XII (市村羽左衛門) as Watanabe Minbu (渡辺民部) in the play “Kuruwa kuru date no Oyose” performed at the Ichimura theatre in 1836, published by Kawachiya Chōzō.
The Woodblock Print
This woodblock print from 1836 is in good condition commensurate with its age; even toning and foxing as shown in the image, backed with paper probably early in its life (as shown). Only the one small pin hole near the top margin, otherwise intact with strong colors.
About the Artist
Kunisada Utagawa (1786 – 1865) was a prolific, successful and at his time highly appreciated leading designer of ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints. Born near Edo as the son of an affluent merchant with a ferry boat license, at the age of 15 Kunisada joined the famous art school of Utagawa Toyokuni and took the artist name Kunisada.
In 1807 Kunisada Utagawa produced his first illustrated book and in 1808 his first actor prints were published. While other artists like Kuniyoshi Utagawa or Hiroshige had to fight for recognition for years, he was successful from the beginning and would become the most commercially successful of all woodblock printmakers ever. Kunisada designed a wide spectrum of traditional ukiyo-e subjects like kabuki themes, beautiful women, historical events and quite a few shunga prints.