Original antique 19th century Japanese Woodblock Print by KUNISADA (AKA TOYOKUNI III, 1786-1864). Presented matted and framed. In good antique condition some surface soiling commensurate of age.
Kunisada Utagawa was born in 1786 in Honjo, in the outskirts of Tokyo, the capital of Japan, then called Edo. His father died when he was about one year old. But he had left his son a hereditary ferry-boat license which provided a safe income. In contrast to so many other ukiyo-e artists like for instance Kuniyoshi Utagawa or his student Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Kunisada never had to experience any financial hardships during his lifetime.
The idea of a hereditary ferry-boat license seems strange to us today. You must know that the Japanese society of the Edo period (1603-1868) was extremely rigid. Your place in life was defined by your birth. If you were born as the son of a farmer, your destiny was to be a farmer for your whole life. Another example was the samurai warrior class. You could not become a samurai. You were born as a samurai.