Utagawa Yoshitsuya

Utagawa Yoshitsuya 歌川芳艶 (1822-1866) 


Sources: The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, p. 504-505; A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 204.

Born with the family name of Kôko Mankichi, Yoshitsuya entered the studio of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) around the age of fifteen. He is considered one of Kuniyoshi's more important students1 along with Utagawa Sadahide (1807-1873). He was famous for his designs of tattoos in the 1840s and 1850s, along with his prints of warriors and prints using legendary animals, such as the giant serpent pictured below, as  caricatures of political events to avoid censorship. The print shown below, Yorimitsu Trying to Capture a Monster (Kijustsu o yabutte Yarimitsu Hakamadare o karamen to su, 1858), is reportedly a caricature of the political struggle for succession after the death of Iesada the 13th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Yorimitsu Trying to Capture a Monster, 1858

(Kijustsu o yabutte Yarimitsu Hakamadare o karamen to su)

Like other artists looking to supplement their income, Yoshitsuya also designed advertisements such as the one pictured below for medicinal toothpaste and medicine for clear vision. 

Medicinal Toothpaste Kiyomasa-ko Illustration

The late-16th-century warrior hero Kato Kiyomasa capturing a tiger

Waseda University Library website


Miruwa kusuri kasumi no hikifuda

Medicine for clear vision,1862

1 Also noted as a "minor pupil" of Kuniyoshi's by Roberts.2 For a detailed discussion of this print and its symbolism see University of Vienna's Ukiyo-e Caricatures website http://kenkyuu.jpn.univie.ac.at/karikaturen/detail.asp?docid=635&lang=e&first=1 

Art Names and Students

Yoshitsuya used the [artist name] Hōon 芳艶, Kōko Yoshitsuya 甲胡芳艶 and Ichieisai Yoshitsuya 一英斎芳艶.

Yoshitsuya’s students include Utagawa Kazutoyo 歌川一豊 (active c. 1862-70), Utagawa Yoshitoyo II 二代 歌川芳豊 (active c. 1862-77), and Yoshitsuya II 二代 歌川芳艶 (active c. 1870s). 

Signatures and Seals of the Artist (a sampling)

The most commontly encountered signature of the artist is 一英斎芳艶 Ichieisai Yoshitsuya, examples of which are shown below.

left: 一英斎芳艶画 

Ichieisai Yoshitsuya ga

right: 一英斎芳艶画 

Ichieisai Yoshitsuya ga with stylized seal 


Ichieisai Yoshitsuya


Ichieisai Yoshitsuya ga

Prints in Collection

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