Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825) Edo print designer, book illustrator and painter. A pupil of Utagawa Toyoharu, he came to prominence in the 1790’s with his actor portraits . In response to the innovative work of contemporaries such as Utamaro and Sharaku and, he produced powerful full-figure and half-length actor portraits that reflected their influence, yet at the same time he established his own style. His actor prints of the 1790s and 1800s are remarkable for their bold, taut designs and sharply characterized faces: he came to prefer the larger field of the OBAN format, which enhanced the impact of his designs, to the narrower Hosoban format favoured by Katsukawa School artists. He codified his forceful nigao-e of the leading actors of the day in the book Quick Instruction in the Drawing of Actor Likenesses (Yakusha nigao haya geiko, 1817). His manner of representing actors was adopted by his numerous students, a list which included Kunisada, Toyokuni II, Kunimaru, Kuniyasu, Kuninao and Kuniyoshi. By 1800 he and his school had displaced the Katsukawa school as the dominant force in the production of actor prints in Edo. In addition to providing illustrations for many inexpensive popular novels. Toyokuni produced notable colour-printed books devoted to actors as well as shunga. Toyokuni's pupils and pupils' pupils dominated print production in Edo into the Meiji era.
Source: Adapted from Amy Riegle Newland, Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Vol. 2, Hotei Publishing LeidenRead More