On this site you will find around 300 Kunisada
signed half-length actor prints designed between 1812 and 1842.
Most of the okubi-e were done in oban format but also included
are half-length actors as fan prints (uchiwa-e and ogi-e) and
also close-up (ogao-e) head portraits always executed as multi
portrait prints (four, six, eight or nine actor heads on one
oban sheet). These 300 prints were published in 40 series and a
very few single prints.
Mr. Ellis Tinios was the first who examined this section of
Kunisada's work. Up to early 2006 he found around 230 single prints and
idendified 31 series/sets of half-length actor prints. He lists
only single and double half-length actor portraits in oban
format. From this kind of prints I do have only around 190 in my
catalogue, so Mr. Tinios's list is much more comprehensive than
lists (those of Mr. Tinios and mine) are not identical. I didn't
yet find images from around 50 prints mentioned by Mr. Tinios.
So I have 50 not included in his list which makes a total of
around 280 Kunisada half-length actor prints.
From this amount the 25 fan prints should be reduced,
so that c. 255 oban half-length actors prints remain (including
the mulitple prints). Most probably this makes 80-90 % of Kunisada's okubi-e
production before the Tenpō reforms in 1842. If fan prints
would be included it is most probably that the amount is as
twice as high. It seems that around 25% of the fan production
are half-length actors, but nobody can say how many fans
Kunisada designed, most of them are destroyed by using them and
only around 200 Kunisada signed fan prints are recorded.
In relationship to Kunisada's total output of actor prints
(kabuki prints, figure actor and half-length actor portraits)
before 1844 the okubi-e prints represent only 3-5 % of his
work*. The public demand and/or the demand of the publishers for
this kind of prints has not been overwhelming but Kunisada seems
to have been the onliest ukiyo-e artist during this time who at
all designed a worth mentioning amount of okubi-e. Officially
the production of okubi-e of actors, courtesans and other
members of 'floating world' were forbidden since 1800, so
Kunisada and his publishers have been forced to bypass the law
with designing half-length actors (which are not true okubi-e),
'battledores', 'incense boxes', 'mirrors' and other items
decorated with large actor heads. I do not known whether the ban
of law only prohibited okubi-e in oban format but obviously not
otherwise the multiple prints would have been illegal.
*: The database of the Waseda
University lists around 1.950 different Kunisada signed
yakusha-e desings, representing 3.550 sheets [from a total
number of around 5.050, but lots of numbers are double and
triple copies]. My catalogue contains c. 1.200 additional
desgins with c. 1.850 sheets. In total this makes 3.150 designs
and 5.400 sheets and could be estimated to represent 50-60 % of
all Kunisada actor prints.
Prints and series are given in
chronological order. An empty space ("no image") indicates
missing images which are included in Mr. Tinios' catalogue.
For some prints I do have only bad files. Sorry but
for this case the bad files are better than nothing.
If you have matching informations and files or better files please let me know and
send them to: