Re:- Toyokuni II:- facts and fiction

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Posted by Theo de Kreijger on May 22, 2003 at 01:28:45:

In Reply to: Re:- Toyokuni II:- facts and fiction posted by Dan McKee on May 21, 2003 at 23:42:40:

Dear Dan,

You are right, but I hope some more clues appear that might shed some light on discrimminating prints by studio "Toyokuni II" from the rest. At the moment the beginning and the end of his active period are "blurred". This is (as you mentioned) illustrated by the "Bickford discussions" about Kunisada using the Toyokuni signature in Andon.

Considering the toyokuni I / II determination problems, there are only very few prints (if not only one) signed "the 2nd Toyokuni" when Toyoshige changed names. This in total contrast with Kunisada who signed numerous prints "the 2nd Toyokuni" when he changed names in 1844. Almost all later prints by Toyoshige are signed "Toyokuni". Only when this signature is preceded by a go (or pen name), one can clearly tell whether or not this is Toyoshige.

Perhaps Toyoshige was already in charge of the school at the end of Toyokuni's life and was the name change only a formality. That would also confirm the obvious continuity in style.

What strikes me (and also Richard Lane if I'm correct) is that Toyoshige also designed prints that showed a quality miles above the level of the typical "Toyokuni" kabuki prints. Although most of those are landscape and animal prints, even some large head actor designs show that strenght. So I have my doubts about the story of the rivalry between Kunisada and him. Perhaps he just got fed up with kabuki and running the school or perhaps he got seriously ill. That might explain his retreat out of Edo and him using the name "Toyoshige" again on prints of a totaly different nature. If I'm correct he died only within two years after giving up the name "Toyokuni". At that time the "Toyokuni" school was unattended and it seems that no pupil of Toyoshige was worthy of taking it over. Eight years later in 1844 Kunisada was asked by the family to do so (I believe that is recorded).


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