Kunichika in the 1860s – the artist gains confidence

This is a batch of rather lovely prints that were being sold in Japan from a collection amassed over 45 years. The quality of the collection overall was very high and these are just a few that I bought from it, representing a range of Kunichika’s work over the 1860s. In this period we see him gaining in confidence and slowly finding his own style, moving away from the strictly Utagawa style of his teacher (Kunisada I / Toyokuni III), with narrow, angular faces, to a softer and more rounded style that he passed on to his disciples such as Chikashige & Chikanobu. We still see a mixture of compositions based around fairly simple backgrounds drawn as they would have appeared probably on the kabuki stage itself OR simply the actors floating in front of an abstract, graphical background. 

Kunichika: Kawarasaki Kunitarō I, Ichimura Kakitsu IV & Sawamura Tanosuke III in the premier of the play “Keisei Soga Kuruwa Kagami” (契情曽我廓亀鑑), staged at the Ichimura-za theatre from the third 27th of the second month 1867
Kunichika: Bandō Hikosaburō V, Nakamura Shikan IV & Iwai Shijaku II in the play “Koe mo Sorou Ryōza no Ōyose” (音揃成両勘大寄), staged jointly at the Morita-za & Nakamura-za theatres from the 21st of the ninth month 1868
Kunichika: Ichikawa Sadanji I, Ichimura Kakitsu IV & Nakamura Nakatarō I in the play “Keikofude Nanatsu Iroha” (稽古筆七いろは), staged at the Ichimura-za theatre from 19th of the eighth month 1867

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