The Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - Project
, 三代歌川豊国

portrait of Kunisada in the age of 73 by Kunichicka


My first Japanese woodblock print reproduction I bought aged 15 in the year 1970. In the following two decades I read some books about Japanese woodblock prints and occasionally bought a new print. Where I looked for prints, fleamarkets or auctions, I always could find prints by Kunisada, but I couldn’t find any literature about him. When he was mentioned in literature he was regarded as rather inferior to the greats of classical ukiyo-e. With a few exceptions, such as actor portraits and portraits of beautiful women, at the beginning of his career, and a series of large-size actor head-portraits near the end, it was thought that he had produced only inferior works. It was not until the early 1990’s, with the appearance of Jan van Doesburg’s overview of the artistic development of Kunisada, Ellis Tinios’s introduction to his actor woodblock prints and Sebastian Izzard’s extensive study of his work, that this picture began to change.

In 1999 when I started the project searching the internet for Kunisada prints the question "What about Kunisada?" wasn´t already answered. Meanwhile my catalogue includes about 18.000 designs which represent about 27.500 sheets. Now Kunisada is more clearly revealed as one of the “giants” of the Japanese print. He was the most popular, prolific and financially successful designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints in 19th-century Japan. In his own time, his reputation far exceeded that of his contemporaries, Hokusai, Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi.

The site displays c. 4.500 prints, mostly ordered by series.
The files on the site are from different sources of the internet and literature and therefore many of them are not of professional quality.
Due to restricted webspace only thumbnails and small images are available.

You also can find a list of around 1100 identified series (Kunisada’s series list), a reference list (books and internet sites), a site with Kunisada’s signatures and seals , a list of kabuki actors portrayed by Kunisada and a list of kabuki plays illustrated by Kunisada.

series and prints from 1852

kabuki prints from 1852:
different prints from kabuki plays
different triptychs from kabuki plays

different half-length actor portraits from 1852

Kunisada signed half-length actor portraits (desingned before 1844)
(updated 10/21)

series from different years

bijin series

Kunisada Sumō prints
(updated 03/20)

collection of Surimono

collection of landscapes
(updated 12/20)
musha-e (warrior prints)

(updated 11/21)


Please send new informations and files to
Please be aware! If you ask me a question via email allow your spam filter to pass my re-email through!

For the friends of Kunisada's great contemporaries, Hiroshige and Kuniysohi, two sites can be recommended:
The "Kuniyoshi Project", a growing site maintained by William Pearl and John Roden's site "
The Woodblock Prints of Ando Hiroshige".
Here you find the sites for two of the notable followers of the great masters: Chikanobu presented by Garry Gross and Yoshitoshi presented by  Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine. And a link to a special site of Utagawa Toyonobu’s Shinsen Taikōki series.

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Started in 2001 by Horst Graebner, member of the Society for Japanese Arts
last change: 11/01/21