Chikanobu Yoshu, Plum Tree Blossoming, Meiji Emperor, Imperial Family
Artist: Chikanobu Yoshu (1838-1912)
Title: Plum Tree Blossoming
Size: (L) 35.3 x 23.8, (C) 35.3 x 23.6, (R) 35.3 x 22.7 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
Portraits of Emperor Meiji became popular after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, an event that marked the start of Japan’s modernisation and end of its closed borders policy. The prints can be interpreted as a form of propaganda, supporting the new regime change from the feudal system of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The rapidity at which Japanese culture changed can be seen in the extent to which even the aristocracy, the arguable core and preservers of Japanese tradition, readily accepted Western clothing and architecture.
|Artist Name||Chikanobu Yoshu|
|Title||Plum Tree Blossoming|
|Subject||Male & Female|
|Dimensions||(L) 35.3 x 23.8, (C) 35.3 x 23.6, (R) 35.3 x 22.7 cm|
|Condition Report||Vertical creases, some thin areas, paper residue on the back, light wear and soiling.|
Born into the Hashimoto samurai family in the Echigo province, Chikanobu became one of the final, great, traditional ukiyo-e artists of the Meiji era, fighting to preserve the traditional culture of Japan. Even so, the modernisation brought about by Western values and technologies can be seen in his work. As a result, he develops a distinctive personal style blending a close adherence to the traditional technique of ukiyo-e, and occasional western imagery. Chikanobu’s early work includes the series ‘From the Famous Places of Edo’, as well as war prints based on the Kagoshima uprising in 1877. He also designed prints rooted in traditional myths and legends. Even though Chikanobu’s prints showcase a variety of subjects, due to the wealth of his beauties and court ladies works, it is believed that the customs and events of the imperial family were his favourite subject. Out of these prints, 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 of the Tokugawa shogunate. This series, like many of Chikanobu’s artworks, is a series of triptychs. Another famous series by this artist is titled ‘True Beauties’ (‘Shin Bijin’) that showcases Japanese ladies in traditional kimono. Influenced by the rapid changes happening in Japanese society following the Meiji restoration, Chikanobu also produced beauty prints showing ladies in Western clothing, as opposed to kimono.