The son of a ferry-boat owner, born in Honjo in 1786, in a district of Edo (now Tokyo), Kunisada Utagawa became the most successful creator of Ukiyo-E woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. His early painting and drawings earned him a coveted apprenticeship with Toyokuni, the great master of the Utagawa school. He began his extraordinarily prolific career depicting traditional subjects: Kabuki actors and Sumo wrestlers. He was also known for his Bijin-Ga prints (portraits of beautiful women) and the genre of prints related to The Tale of Genji. By the age of 27, he was a dominant, visionary force in Edo's artistic world; admired as an innovator in the art of the Japanese woodblock print, continuously developing artistically and sometimes radically changing his style. His great popularity surpassed that of his peers, Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Kuniyoshi throughout his long career. He passed away in 1865.
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