Katsukawa Shunsho

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Katsukawa Shunshô was an ukiyo-e artist chiefly known for his paintings and actor prints. A student of Miyagawa Shunsui, Shunshô was one of the chief artists of the Katsukawa school, and taught many of its prominent members. Though considered a master of the print, he is also regarded as one of the chief ukiyo-e painters.

Up until that time, the Torii school had dominated the kabuki prints sub-genre. However, Shunshô pioneered the differentiation of faces, presenting the Torii school with significant competition. His figures not only look individualized from one another, but actually resemble somewhat the actors being depicted, a major innovation in ukiyo-e depictions of human figures. This mode of depiction also represented a shift away from purely representing the role to describing the actual actor in that role, a move influenced by - or influencing - the growth of the cult of the actor, a phenomenon essential to kabuki.

He produced not only prints of kabuki actors, but also images of sumo wrestlers, courtesans, famous historical warriors, and other subjects, as well as shunga subjects.

In his later years, he turned from print designs to focus on his painting. His chief pupils included Katsukawa Shun'ei, Katsukawa Shunkô, Katsukawa Shunchô, and Hokusai.


  • Lane, Richard. Images from the Floating World. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1978. pp116-120.