Utagawa Kunisada

Utagawa Kunisada- "Inazuma vs Abumatsu on the Dohyo" Sumo Wrestle Triptych 1840's



Woodblock Print


Intricate Japanese woodblock print triptych of a sumo match between the wrestlers Inazuma and Abumatsu in the the dohyo, or sumo ring, by the popular artist Utagawa Kunisada in the 1840's.

Artist Biography

Kunisada was born in 1786 in Honjo, an eastern district of Edo. His given name was Sumida Shōgorō, and he was also called Sumida Shōzō. While growing up, he developed an early talent for painting and drawing. His early sketches at that time impressed Toyokuni, the great master of the Utagawa school and prominent designer of kabuki and actor-portrait prints. In the year 1800 or shortly thereafter Kunisada was accepted by Toyokuni I as an apprentice in his workshop. In keeping with a tradition of Japanese master-apprentice relations, he was then given the official artist name of "KUNI-sada", the first character of which was derived from the second part of the name "Toyo-KUNI". Almost from the first day of his activity, and even at the time of his death in 1865, Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print. About 14,500 individual designs have been catalogued (polyptych sets counted as a single design) corresponding to more than 22,500 individual sheets. It seems probable based on these figures that Kunisada actually produced between 20,000 and 25,000 designs for woodblock prints during his lifetime (i.e. 35,000 to 40,000 individual sheets). Following the traditional pattern of the Utagawa school, Kunisada's main occupation was kabuki and actor prints, and about 60% of his designs fall in this category. From 1820 to 1860 he likewise dominated the market for portraits of sumo wrestlers. Despite contradictory accounts, Kunisada passes away between 1864 and early 1865.


H 20.5 in. x W 36 in. x D .5 in.