Yōshū Chikanobu, who portrayed the Great Interior of Chiyoda Castle in nishiki-e
and was famous as a master of bijin-ga, retired to Shimo-Ōsaki
at the foot of Goten-yama five years ago. He had been living a secluded, elegant life until he began to suffer from stomach
cancer this past June, finally dying on the night of September 28th at the age of seventy-five. |
His real name was Hashimoto Naoyoshi, a retainer of the Sakakibara family of Takata domain in Echigo province. After the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate, he volunteered for the Shōgitai and fought in the Battle of Ueno. Thereafter he fled to Hakodate and fought in the Battle of the Goryōkaku under the leadership of Enomoto Takeaki and Ōshima Keisuke achieving fame for his bravery. But following the Shōgitai’s surrender, he was handed over to the Takata domain.
In the eighth year of Meiji (1875), with the intention of earning a living in the way that made him happiest, he went to the capital and lived in Yushima-Tenjin town. He became an artist for the Kaishin Shinbun, and on the side, produced many nishiki-e pieces.
Regarding his artistic background: as a youngster he studied the Kanō school of painting, but later switched to ukiyo-e and studied with a disciple of Keisai Eizen. Next, after joining the school of Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi, he called himself Yoshitsuru. After Kuniyoshi’s death, he studied with Kunisada. Later he studied nigao-e (portraiture) with Toyohara Kunichika, and called himself Isshunsai Chikanobu. He also referred to himself as Yōshū.
Among his disciples were Nobukazu, Gyokuei (Yōdō Gyokuei, the uchiwa-e painter), and several others. Gyokuei produced Kajita Hanko, his apprentice. Since Nobukazu is now the only one in good health, there is no successor to Chikanobu’s bijin-ga. It is most regrettable that Edo-e, after the death of Kunichika, has perished with Chikanobu.
translated by Kyoko Iriye Selden, Senior Lecturer, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University, ret'd.