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Kunisada's names

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The artist who is the subject of this exhibition used a number of names in the course of his long career. His family name was Sumida but he never used it in his work, employing instead two professional names. His first professional name, Kunisada, was bestowed on him at the start of his career by his teacher Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825).

He signed all of his work Kunisada from 1807 until 1844, when he assumed his teacher’s professional name, Toyokuni. He announced this name-change by signing numerous prints issued in 1844/45 with the signature ‘Kunisada changing to Toyokuni II’. In doing so he rejected the use of the name by Tokokuni’s son-in-law Toyoshige between Toyokuni’s death in 1825 and Toyoshige’s death in 1835. (Nowadays Toyoshige is usually called Toyokuni II, and Kunisada Toyokuni III).In addition to their professional names, Japanese artists employed numerous art names (go).

In signing his prints Kunisada often preceded his professional name (Kunisada or Toyokuni) with one of the following art names: Gototei (used only with Kunisada), Kochoro (used with Kunisada and Toyokuni); and Ichiyosai (used only with Toyokuni). Kunisada sometimes varied his signature when signing prints in a set or even the sheets of a triptych. He also usually added the suffix ga (drawn by), and in the last decade of his life, hitsu (from the brush of).

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Organised for Japan 2001

The Fitzwilliam Museum is especially grateful to John Carpenter, Tim Clark, Paul M. Griffith, Hideyuki Iwata and Ellis Tinios for their generous help during the preparation of this exhibition.

Funded by Japan 2001