Natori Shunsen was born in 1886 in Tokyo under the given name of Yoshinosuke. He studied traditional Japanese painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts as a student of Kubota Beisen. After completing his studies he took a job as an illustrator for a Tokyo newspaper and began exhibiting his paintings in Tokyo galleries. At an exhibition, publisher and Shin Hanga promoter Watanabe Shozaburo met Shunsen and convinced him to start making woodblock prints.
Shunsen produced several series of actor prints and numerous “bijin-ga”, prints of beautiful women. Shunsen’s prints were produced in small editions and sold by a subscription scheme, making them rare and expensive to collect. His actor prints from the 1920s are considered among the finest Japanese prints of the twentieth century and are highly sought after.
Shunsen’s daughter died of pneumonia at the age of only twenty- two in 1958 and Shunsen and his wife could not get over her death. Two years after her death, they both tragically committed suicide at their daughter’s grave.