Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815)

Torii Kiyonaga, who was a pupil of Torii Kiyomitsu, began his career with pictures of kabuki actors, a genre for which the Torii school, of which he was the fourth titular head, was well-known, but later he began to draw beautiful women and between 1781 and 1785 he developed the "Kiyonaga beauty." For his ukiyoe woodblock prints, he, like many others, took as his themes the daily life and entertainments of Edo's residents, including scenes from the city's pleasure quarters. Around 1787 he is said to have given up illustrations of women and returned to the actor portraits that were the trademark of his school. Kiyonaga's forte was drawing standing figures of long-torsoed women and men who nearly filled the picture's vertical plane. He produced many portraits of individuals which suggest robust health and also a certain nobility of character. Kiyonaga made various attempts to render his ukiyoe in a wider format, printing first two-part, then three-part, works that fit together as a single scene. Of his triptych works, 24 examples remain.