Kitagawa UTAMARO (1753-1806)
Kitagawa Utamaro (about 1753 - 1806) was first influenced by the early ukiyo-e artists Katsukawa Shunchō, Torii Kiyonaga and Kitao Shigemasa. Around 1781 he started to find his own style and the following years the well-known publisher Tsutaya Jūzaburō released three illustrated books: Ehon mushi erami (Picture Book of Selected Insects), Shiohi no tsuto (Gifts from the Ebb Tide) and Momo chidori kyôka awase (Myriad Birds: A Kyôka Competition).
During the Kansei Era (1789 – 1819) Utamaro designed so called bijin ōkubi-e prints, which show only the portrait of beautiful women. All prints of this series are very rich in detail, some are printed on glittery grounded paper (by using mica minerals). Torii Kiyonaga was the most popular artist of bijin prints during the 1780ies. His works picture very graceful and tall beauties, very fine in line. Utamaro got inspired by these works, though beautiful women by Utamaro vary in character, social standards and emotions – quite different to the bijin-ga (beautiful women) pictures typical by that time.