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Kitagawa Utamaro

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Kitagawa Utamaro
Edo Utagawa Printmaker
Japanese, (1754–1806) Orig. Toriyama Shimbi. Aka: Toyoaki (Hosho), Yusuke, and later Yuki. Go: Entaisai, Issoshurichosai, Mokuen, Sekiyo, Utamaro, Shomei Utamaro. Studio name: Murasakiya, Shibaya.
Kikagawa Utamaro was an Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker, who lived in Edo. He was the son and pupil of Toriyama Sekien, a painter of the Chinese school. Utamaro was influenced by Kitao Masanobu and Torii Kiyonaga. He was one of the central figures in the Edo world of artists and writers. Little is known about his life other than he was arrested and imprisoned in 1804 by the shogunate for publishing a triptych that violated a government prohibition. He was also one of the first Japanese artists to be known in Europe, and Utamaro had considerable influence on Western artists such as Toulous-Lautrec. In 1788 two of his most important works appeared: "Mushi Erabi" (Insect Book) and "Uta Makura" (Pillow of Poems). His early prints of actors and young courtesans were in the manner of Kiyonaga, but he soon developed his own personal style. The themes of the prints for which he is best known were taken largely from the lives of women, both in the home and in the licensed quarter. These he depicted in his distinctive, attractive, elegant style; the features were generally small, the figures tall and graceful. He also made many "okubi-e". The colors he used were clear and fresh, and his style dominated the print world for a generation. (Roberts, 193)

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