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Ippitsusai Bunchō (一筆斎文調, fl. 1755–1790) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, best known for his yakusha-e actor prints in narrow hosoban dimensions.[1] Bunchō and Katsukawa Shunshō are credited with having developed kabuki actor portraiture focuses on producing likenesses of the subjects, rather than stereotyped faces.[2]

Little is known about Bunchō's life. His birth surname was Mori, and he is believed to have studied painting under Ishikawa Yukimoto of the Kanō school.[1]

The earliest known works attributed to Bunchō are the illustrations to Hachimonji Jishō II's Eiga asobi nidai otoko (1755). Between 1766 and 1774 he made a large number of actor prints in the narrow vertical hosoban dimensions. In 1770 he produced the three-volume Ehon butai ōgi (絵本舞台扇, "Picture-book of Stage Fans") with Katsukawa Shunshō, which depicts the leading kabuki actors of the day on ōgi hand fans; Bunchō handled the onnagata—male actors who portray female characters.[1] It was popular and went through multiple printings.[3]

From 1769 he also made bijin-ga prints of female beauties that show the influence of Suzuki Harunobu.[1] These became his major subject, and in the An'ei era (1772–81) no actor prints of his are known.[3]

Bunchō's last known work was an e-goyomi picture calendar from 1790. He had few students, one of whom was Kishi Bunshō (1754–96).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Marks 2012, p. 48.
  2. ^ Japan Ukiyo-e Association 1982, p. 120.
  3. ^ a b Fujisawa 2006, p. 48.

Works cited[edit]

  • Fujisawa, Akane (2006). "Ippitsusai Bunchō". In Kobayashi, Tadashi (ed.). Ukiyo eshi retsuden 浮世絵師列伝. Bessatsu Taiyō (in Japanese). Heibonsha. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9784582944938.
  • Japan Ukiyo-e Association (1982). Genshoku Ukiyo-e Dai-Hyakka Jiten 原色 浮世絵大百科事典 第6巻 [Original Colour Grand Ukiyo-e Encyclopaedia]. Vol. 6. Taishūkan Publishing.
  • Marks, Andreas (2012). Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680–1900. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4629-0599-7.

External links[edit]