Utagawa Fusatane

Utagawa Fusatane 歌川房種 (active 1854-1889)  


Utagawa Fusatane was a student of Utagawa Sadafusa (active 1825-1850). His art names (gō) include Ōsai (櫻斎 or 桜斎), Isshōsai (一笑斎), and Ippyōsai (一瓢斎). His original name was Murai Seima (村井 静馬). The dates of his birth and death are not known. Various dates are given for his "active" periods with an earliest date of 1849 and the latest date being 1888. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston lists 1854-1888 as his active period.

Source: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, p. 503.

Act. c. late 1850s-70 – Edo/Tokyo print designer. A pupil of Utagawa Sadafusa. Fusatane produced fukeiga (pictures of landscapes), bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) and fūzokuga (pictures of manners and customs), including subject-matter of kaika-e (pictures of Japan's modernization).  His bijin reflect the drawing style of Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) and Sadafusa, while his landscapes were strongly influenced by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). His Genji mitata-e (parody pictures) sets include From Genji in the Four Seasons (Genji shiki no uchi, 8/1862). At his best Fusatane could rise above ordinary, as in his series of uchiwa-e titled Complete Famous Places of Former Times (Kodai meisho soroi, c. 1847-52) featuring half-length portraits of beauties posed before Hiroshige-style views. Other gagō: Isshōsai, Ippyōsai.

Two prints from his comic series Inochi No Youjyo Zen Aku Kagami (Reflection on Good and Evil for a Healthy Life) featuring the character for life, "inochi," are part of this collection.

A Second Rate Artist?

Source: The Maintenance of Tradition in the Face of Contemporary Demands: A Reassessment of Meiji Prints, Oikawa Shigeru, article appearing in The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, et. al., Hotei Publishing, 2005, Volume 1, p. 262.

As a consequence of the economies in print production that Meiji era publishers were trying to achieve "was the widespread practice of employing second-rate artists such as Utagawa Kunitoshi (1847-1899), Utagawa Kunihisa (active c. 1800-20) and Utagawa Fusatane (active c. late 1850s-70).  hey could churn out slapdash, easy-to-produce designs, in contrast to masters like Utagawa Sadahide (1807-1873), Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889), Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892) and others whose compositions involved intricate line-work. 

Signatures and Seals of the Artist (a sampling)


Isshōsai Fusatane ga 1852


Fusatane ga within Toshidama cartouche 1854
房種画Fusatane ga 1854
 應需櫻斎房種ōju Ōsai Fusatane hitsu with unread seal1854
應需 房種画ōju Fusatane ga with unread seal1862
房種画Fusatane ga within Toshidama cartouche1862
應需 房種?画ōju Fusatane unread character ga 1862
應需 房種画ōju Fusatane ga with unread seal1862
桜斎房種Ōsai Fusatane hitsu1878
桜斎房種 Ōsai Fusatane 1879
桜斎房種画Ōsai Fusatane ga1879
桜斎房種Ōsai Fusatane hitsu1888
應需 房種ōju Fusatane hitsu 1888
一笑斎Isshōsai Fusastane gac. 1860s

Prints in Collection


click on thumbnail for print details