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Hokuei (fl. 1824 - 1837)

Banzui Chobei by Seki Sanjuro and Hirai Gonpachi by Arashi Rikan

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1830
Size (H x W): 14.25 x 10 (inches)
Signature: Shunbaisai Hokuei ga
Condition: Good color and impression, overall surface soiling and wear, lightly backed


About the artist

The student and heir of the renowned Osaka artist Hokushu, Hokuei is a major artist of the Osaka school. In his 13 year career, Hokuei completed over 150 prints, both single-sheet designs 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 (actor print) artists and soon became the most prolific artist since his teacher. Like his teacher, Hokuei portrayed major actors such as 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 over the course of his career.

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.