Yoshitora, Utagawa (act 1836-1882)

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Yoshitora, Utagawa (act 1836-1882)

Utagawa Yoshitora was active from about 1849 to about 1882. He was a designer of ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints and an illustrator of books and newspapers. He was born in Edo (modern Tokyo), but neither his date of birth nor date of death is known. He was the oldest pupil of Utagawa Kuniyoshi who and excelled in prints of warriors, kabuki actors, beautiful women, and foreigners (Yokohama-e) even though he may not have seen any of the foreign scenes he depicted. Yoshitora was prolific. He produced over 60 print series and illustrated over 100 books. In 1849 his irreverent print “Funny Warriors—Our Ruler’s New Year’s Rice Cakes” was declared by the censors to be a criticism of authority. Based on this, Yoshitora was placed in manacles for fifty days. Soon after he was expelled from Kuniyoshi’s studio, but he continued to produce illustrations prolifically. From the 1860s Yoshitora produced over 150 Yokohama-e pictures of foreigners amid rapid modernization that came to Japan after the country was opened to trade. He collaborated on a number of landscape series, and in the Meiji period that began in 1868 he also worked in newspapers. The last of his known works appeared in 1882.

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