During his lifetime Kunisada Utagawa was considered to be the best print designer by his contemporaries. He was more popular than Hiroshige, Hokusai or Kuniyoshi. And Kunisada was extremely productive. His total output is estimated at more than 20,000 designs, many made by his students.
Kunisada Utagawa (born 1786 – died 12 January 1865) was a very prolific, successful and at his time highly appreciated leading designer of ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints). He was born near Edo as the son of an affluent merchant with a ferry boat license. At the age of 15 Kunisada joined the famous art school of Utagawa Toyokuni and took the artist name Kunisada.
In 1807 Kunisada Utagawa produced his first illustrated book. And in 1808 his first actor prints were published. His fame grew fast. While other artists like Kuniyoshi Utagawa or Hiroshige had to fight for recognition for years, he was successful from the beginning. He should become the most commercially successful of all woodblock printmakers ever. His early success may not have had a good influence on his personality. He had a reputation for his conceited personality.