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Gototei Kunisada. 1786-1865.

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Shirabioshi (Temple Dancer). c. 1840. Kakemono-e. 26 1/4 x 8 1/2. Publisher and signature partially trimmed. Signed 'oju Kochoro Kunisada ga,' Mounted on black silk in the manner of a Japanese watercolor. Housed in an elegant gold and black wood 37 1/2 X 16 3/4 X 2 1/2-inch frame weighing 6 1/2 pounds. $975.

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Shirabyoshi were Japanese female entertainers in the Heian and Kamakura periods who sang songs and performed dances. They danced dressed as men. The profession of shirabyoshi became popular in the 12th century. They would perform for the nobility, and at celebrations. The word shirabyoshi can also refer to the songs they sang and the dances they performed

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Utagawa Kunisada was among the most popular, prolific and financially successful designers of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan.

Born in the Honjo district of Edo as Kunisada Tsunoda, Kunisada's family owned a small hereditary ferryboat service. Though his father, an amateur poet, died when Kunisada was a child, the family business provided some financial security. During his childhood, he showed considerable promise in painting and drawing. Due to strong familial ties with literary and theatrical circles, he spent time studying actor portraits.

At age 14, he was admitted to study under Toyokuni, head of the Utagawa school. Kunisada's work embodies the characteristics of the Utagawa school, focusing on traditional subjects such as kabuki, bijin (beautiful women), shunga (erotic prints), and historical prints. His first known print dates to 1807, his first illustrated book to 1808. Kunisada’s career took off from the beginning. Many of his works became overnight successes and he was considered the 'star attraction' of the Utagawa school. He signed his works 'Kunisada,' sometimes with the studio names of Gototei and Kochoro affixed.

In 1844, he adopted the name of his teacher and became Toyokuni III. Kunisada passed away in 1864 in the same neighborhood that he was born. He was 70 years old. Kunisada was a highly popular, and the most active, ukiyo-e artist of the 19th century. In his time, his reputation surpassed those of his contemporaries Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.

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Traditional Japanese Prints.

Twentieth-century Japanese prints.

Framed fine art.

Allinson Gallery, Inc.

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