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Utagawa Toyokuni

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Utagawa Toyokuni was one of the great ukiyo-e artists of the late 18th to early 19th centuries, and was the head of the Utagawa school for a time.

Born in Edo in 1769 the son of doll/puppet maker Kurahashi Gorôbei, he spent his childhood living in the neighborhood near Shiba Shinmei Shrine (also known as Shiba Daijingû).

In his mid-teens he began to study painting and woodblock design under Utagawa Toyoharu. His oldest known print to be published is one from 1785, depicting kabuki actor Mimasu Tokujirô I as a female ashigaru.

Toyokuni then went on to produce privately commissioned surimono, illustrations for kibyôshi fiction volumes, and calendars, among other works. Beginning in the Kansei era (1789-1801) he produced numerous bijinga (images of beautiful women).

Utagawa Kunisada took the name Toyokuni (III) in 1844.

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