Utamaro Kitagawa

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Utamaro Kitagawa


Born 1753, in Kawagoe; died Oct. 30 or June 19, 1806, in Edo (present-day Tokyo). Japanese painter and graphic artist; creator of designs for color prints from wood blocks.

Utamaro, a representative of the ukiyo-e school, worked in Edo. He chose subjects from the life of artisans and depicted landscapes and fauna and flora, for example, his album of prints Insects (1788). He became famous, however, for works dedicated to the geishas of the Yoshiwara district, notably the album of prints Yearbook of the Green Houses of Yoshiwara (1804). Masterfully exploiting the decorative potential of the white surface of paper and sometimes portraying only the head and shoulders of female subjects (for the first time in Japanese wood-block prints), Utamaro achieved remarkable subtlety in conveying emotion. His elegantly poetic works played an important role in arousing European interest in Japanese prints in the late 19th century.


Iaponskaia graviura. Moscow, 1963.
Shibui, K. Utamaro. New York [1962].