Rival artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864) were the two best-selling designers of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan.
Kunisada was the popular favorite during his lifetime, famous for realistic portraits of Kabuki theater actors, sensual images of beautiful women and the luxurious settings he imagined for historical scenes. Kuniyoshi is beloved by today’s connoisseurs and collectors for his dynamic action scenes of tattooed warriors and supernatural monsters—foreshadowing present-day manga and anime—as well as comic prints and a few especially daring works that feature forbidden political satire in disguise.
The exhibition presents a selection of 100 outstanding works, drawn entirely from the MFA’s preeminent Japanese collection, including large, multi-sheet images in brilliant color. Viewers are invited to decide for themselves which of the two artists is their personal favorite.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Kuniyoshi X Kunisada is a beautifully-produced volume, with glorious full-color illustrations, presenting Kuniyoshi and Kunisada’s artistic rivalry through a selection of outstanding works from the unparalleled Japanese art collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Famous for the realism of his portraits of Kabuki actors, the sensuality of his beautiful women and the luxurious settings he imagined for historical scenes, Kunisada was the popular favorite during his lifetime. Kuniyoshi is loved by connoisseurs and collectors today for his dynamic action scenes of warriors and monsters (which foreshadowed present-day manga and anime), his comic prints and even a few especially daring works that included forbidden political satire in disguise.
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