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Toyohara Kunichika was a talented Japanese woodblock print artist, born on 30 June 1835 and died on 1 July 1900. At the age of thirteen, he became a student of Tokyo's then-leading printmaker, Utagawa Kunisada. His knowledge and deep appreciation of kabuki drama led to his production primarily of yakusha-e, which are woodblock prints of kabuki actors and scenes from popular plays of the time.
Although he was not successful during his lifetime, he was resurrected by an author, adventurer, banker, and collector of Japanese art, Kojima Usui, who wrote many articles aimed at resurrecting Kunichika's reputation in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Later research on his work did not begin until quite recently.
In 1999, the publication of Amy Reigle Newland's "Time Present and Time Past: Images of a Forgotten Master: Toyohara Kunichika 1835-1900" in English helped to bring Kunichika's work to the western world. The 2008 show at the Brooklyn Museum, "Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770-1900," and a resulting article in The New York Times of 03/22/08 have also increased public awareness of and prices for Kunichika prints.
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