The student and heir of the renowned Osaka artist Hokushu, Hokuei is a major artist of the Osaka school. He changed his name frequently: he began his career as “Shunko,” followed by “Shunkodai Hokeui” until late 1833, and finally to “Shunbaisai Hokuei,” which he would use until his death (punctuated by the year 1836, when he signed his works “Sekkaro Hokuei”). He used a variety of seals throughout his career.
In his 13 year career, Hokuei completed over 150 prints, both single-sheet and polyptychs. He was the sole pupil of Hokushu to remain active into the 1830s. In 1831, he was considered 8th in the ranking of yakusha-e (Japanese actor print) artists and soon became the most prolific artist since his teacher. Like his teacher, Hokuei portrayed major actors Nakamura Utaemon III and Arashi Rikan II. He also maintained his teacher’s lasting relationship with Honsei publishing house and the engraver Kasuke. As the last artist of the Hokushu school, Hokuei attracted a circle of followers.
"The source of genius is imagination alone, the refinement of the senses that sees what others do not see, or sees them differently." - Eugene Delacroix