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
1888 - 1976
Bakufu Ono was a printmaker from Tokyo, where he resided until the great Kanto earthquake left most of the city in ruins in 1923. He relocated to the Kansai area after that.
Ono’s popular landscape and fish prints were elevated to fame by his series ‘The Familiar Fish of Nippon’, which was published by Kyoto Hanga-in and released in 1940. The printing of this series was a group effort, as used to be typical for woodblock printing during the Edo period long before Ono’s time and used to include an artist, carver, printer and publisher.
Bafuku Ono, of course, was the artist in this endeavour. The blocks were carved by Matsuda and Kikuda, and were printed by Shinagawa, Nagae, Uchida and Ono himself. While his works were never titled, unofficial titles were often applied to Ono’s prints by the woodblock print community.
The artist’s other accomplishments include being awarded the title of honorary member of the Hyogo Prefecture Academy of Fine Arts, as well as being part of Taiheiyogakai. His oil paintings were exhibited at the great Teiten exhibition in 1929.
1844 - 1895
Artwork by Bairei Kono, also known as Bairei Yasuda, is famous for its bird and flower prints, as well as landscapes influenced by Western realism. He was born in Kyoto and worked as a painter, book illustrator and art teacher throughout his life.
One of his most well-known works is the ‘Album of One Hundred Birds’, released in 1881, that was published by Okura Magobei, in which pairs of birds and flowers are shown throughout the seasons. This series of prints was often bound into a set of two or four separate volumes. A second edition was posthumously published in 1899.
Before opening his own school in 1880, Bairei studied in the Maruyama school, led by the painter Nakajima Raisho (1796-1871), until his teacher’s death. Thereafter, he continued his studies in the Shijo-school under master Shiokawa Bunrin (1808-1877).
Bairei’s own pupils included Takeuchi Seiho, Uemura Shoen and Kawai Gyokudo.