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Utagawa Kunisada

Japanese, 1786-1865
On Guard, A Gathering

Color woodblock print on paper

Signed lower right

Upper left and right with seals and inscriptions

9 1/2 x 14 inches

Framed and matted under glass

Kunisada was the most celebrated actor-print designer of the 19 th century and certainly the most prolific of the Japanese masters. It has been estimated that as many as 20,000 designs were issued from his studios, a staggering number. The prolific Kunisada was almost possessed to create. Given the likelihood that some of these prints were issued in the many thousands of impressions, the number of actual prints sold by various publisher's during the artist's life was incredibly high, nevertheless his best efforts rank as masterworks of 19 th century ukiyo-e.

Kunisada only designed 10 landscapes, preferring figural work to the plain scene. His Night Snow of Kambara is exquisitely handled and so are his geisha figures on horseback. Because prints were in great demand during the 1850s, Kunisada and his publishers produced in 1852 11 series of woodblock prints (400 designs) and they sold rapidly, inspiring Kunisada to continue to produce.

Kunisada was one of the most respected and popular designer artists of woodblock prints of his era.

On Guard, A Gathering was probably part of the 1850 series Tactics, a treatise on military tactics of the legendary general Minamoto no Yoshitsune.