This section introduces a range of Japanese woodblock print artists whose work comes through our gallery.
Chikanobu Hashimoto, also known as Chikanobu Yoshu, was one of Toyohara Kunichika’s most prominent students and also studied with the great ukiyo-e masters Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Utagawa Toyokuni III (Kunisada). He is counted as one of the finest printmakers of Meiji Japan.
Some of Chikanobu’s early work includes the series ‘From the Famous Places of Edo’, as well as war prints that Chikanobu produced when the Kagoshima uprising erupted. He also designed some interesting prints based on mythologies and legends. Even though, Chikanobu’s prints showcase a variety of subjects, such as landscape prints and war prints, the customs and events of the royal family are believed to have made up his favourite subject, which is supported by the fact that he seems to mostly have concentrated on depicting beauties and court ladies.
Out of these, the most well-known series is probably ‘Court Ladies of the Chiyoda Place’ (‘Chiyoda no O-oku’), which depicts the court life in the palace as it used to be during the Tokugawa shogunate. This series, as well as many of Chikanobu’s other artworks, is a series of triptychs.
Another famous series by this artist is titled ‘True Beauties’ (‘Shin Bijin’) that showcases Japanese ladies dressed in traditional kimono. During his lifetime, Chikanobu experienced rapid changes in Japanese society, which reflects in some of his beauty prints that show ladies in Western clothing, as opposed to kimono.
Born into the Hashimoto samurai family in the Echigo province, Chikanobu became of the ukiyo-e artists of his era who struggled to preserve the fading traditional culture of Japan. Even so, the influence of fast modernisation through the adaption of Western values and technologies can be seen in Chikanobu’s work.
Charles W. Bartlett
1921 - 2014