Ronin Gallery is pleased to present 38 bust portrait prints from the series The 53 Stations of the Tokaido by Toyokuni III. The series dates to 1852 and portrays well known kabuki actors and famous people along the Tokaido Road. These prints are considered among the artist’s best series of bust portraits and are probably one of the most successful series ever published. The prints that we are offering are all early impressions, many embellished with black lacquer and embossing.
Kunisada aka Toyokuni III (1786-1864)was a prolific and very popular ukiyo-e artist. He was reputed to be the best print designer of his time and more popular than his contemporaries Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi. Little is known of his early life, he was born in the Honjo district of Edo. His father was a merchant with a ferry boat license who died when Kunisada was just 1 year old. He developed an early talent for art and at the age of 15 became a pupil of Toyokuni and took the name Kunisada. After seven years of apprenticeship he illustrated his first book and in 1808 he began to design Kabuki prints. A trendsetter, he became astoundingly popular and an enormous commercial success. In 1844 he took the name of Toyokuni III and became the head of the Utagawa School of ukiyo-e printmaking. It is estimated that over 70% of his work was of Kabuki actors however he was also highly accomplished in the area of beautiful women, landscape, shunga, samurai and surimono prints.