Lady walking in rain with umbrella, Utagawa Kunisada
Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Always at the vanguard of his time, he continuously developed his style, which was sometimes radically changed, and did not adhere to stylistic constraints set by any of his contemporaries.
His productivity was extraordinary. About 14,500 individual designs have been cataloged, corresponding to more than 22,500 individual sheets. Kunisada produced between 20,000 and 25,000 designs for woodblock prints during his lifetime.
Utagawa Kunisada, 1786–1865 was Japanese artist who was probably the most prolific of all printmakers of the ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”). Kunisada was a trendsetter in the art of the Japanese woodblock print. Kunisada produced between 20,000 and 25,000 designs for woodblock prints during his lifetime (i.e. 35,000 to 40,000 individual sheets). Following the traditional pattern of the Utagawa school, Kunisada's main occupation was kabuki and actor prints. He was also highly active in the area of bijin-ga (beautiful women). In 1840sand 1850s, Kunisada collaborated with both Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi in three major series as well as on a number of smaller projects. Notable students of Kunisada included Toyohara Kunichika, Utagawa Sadahide and Utagawa Kunisada II.
Charles Stewart Smith (1832-1909) was an art collector and businessman. As a businessman, Smith was a president, and director of the Associates Land Company, vice president and director of the City and Suburban Homes Company, treasurer and director of the Woodlawn Cemetery, trustee of Barnard College and director of the Fifth Avenue Bank, German Alliance Insurance Company, Greenwich Savings Bank, and Fourth National Bank. He was a member of the Union League, Lawyers, Players, Century, and Merchants Club. As an art collector, Smith was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vice President of the Society of Art Collectors (558 Fifth Avenue, New York). In 1892, while traveling in Japan on his honeymoon with his third wife, he purchased several thousand Japanese prints, ceramics, and paintings from the British military man, journalist, author and collector Captain Frank Brinkley (1841-1912). In 1901 Smith donated 1,763 Japanese woodcut prints to the New York Public Library and the rest to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among these color woodcuts is a celebrated group of prints by Kitagawa Utamaro, as well as examples of the work of Harunobu, Koryusai, Sharaku, and Hokusai.