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Biography: Ganjôsai KUNIHIRO (丸丈齋國廣)

Kunihiro 1821 kitsusaburo as nagai genzaburo
Kunihiro print from 1821
Arashi Kitsusaburô I as Nagai Genzaburô
in Katakiuchi chikai no shiragarami




Kunihiro signatureGanjôsai Kunihiro (丸丈齋國廣 act. c. 1816-1841 or possibly 1815-43) was a leading ukiyo-e print designer in Osaka. He seems to have been an independent artist known to have had a brief association with the Edo artist Utagawa Toyokuni I (歌川豊國 1769-1825), although the extent of his tutelage with that master printmaker and painter remains obscure.

In Osaka, Kunihiro produced a single-sheet print at least as early as 3/1816, signing without a forename (or pseudonym, ). Only by 9/1821 did he add the "Ganjôsai" (丸丈齋) to his signature for a collaborative work with Kunishige (國重 later called Ryûsai Shigeharu 鉚齋重春). Early in his career he published with Wataki (Wataya Kihei, 綿屋喜兵衞), Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei 満屋喜兵衞), and others, but from around 1819 until the end of his active period around 1841, he published nearly always with Tenki, beginning, perhaps coincidentally, with the return of Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門) to Osaka, when overall print production in Osaka rose sharply.

As with virtually all print designers in Osaka, the subject in Kunihiro's prints was almost exclusively the portrayal of kabuki actors (yakusha-e: 役者絵). Periodically, however, Kamigata publishers issued series of full-color prints (nishiki-e: 錦絵) featuring popular summertime costume parades (nerimono: 邌物) of the urban pleasure quarters and entertainment districts. In 6/1828, Kunihiro, Shigeharu, and Yoshikuni designed prints for a collaborative series, Naniwa Shimanouchi nerimono (Costume parade in the Shimanouchi district, Osaka: 難波嶋の内邌物). These parades afforded Osaka artists with opportunities to depict entertainment figures not associated with the kabuki theater, a rather uncommon print genre in Kamigata. The faces were not true likenesses (nigao, 似顔) but stylized renderings, and sometimes hybrids of Edo and Kamigata influences.

Kunihiro's names/signatures/seals


Takigawa (瀧川)
Utagawa (歌川)
Tenmaya (天満屋)

Art names (geimei):

Kunihiro (國廣) see signature image at top right

Art pseudonyms ():

Ganjôsai (丸丈斎)
Kônantei (江南亭)
Sanshôtei (三昇亭)

Pupils of Kunihiro (listed alphabetically)

Gokitei Kuniharu (五輝亭國春) 1803–39; act. c. 1827 (possibly a student)
Kunihira (國平) act. c. 1815–16
Kunimasu (國升) act. c. 1832–54 (possibly a student)
Kuninaga (國長) act. c. 1832 (possibly a student)
Kunishige (國重) act. c. 1832 (possibly a student); not the early "Kunishige" name used by Shigeharu
Ryûsai Shigeharu (鉚齋重春) act. c. 1821–41

For more information about Yoshikuni, see John Fiorillo's web page: