Moronobu (1618 - 1694 )

The son of a respected artisan in Awa province, Moronobu Hishikawa was born Moronobu Furuyama. He began his artistic career drawing embroidery patterns with his father, a textile dyer and embroiderer. In 1658, Moronobu moved to Edo to apprentice in painting, where he studied Kano, Tosa, Hasegawa and genre painting, largely depicting bijin (beautiful women) in profile. He soon shifted his medium and became a prolific illustrator. His first known book is signed and dated to 1672. Through Moronobu produced around 60 ehon (illustrated books), many albums of shunga (erotic prints), and single-sheet prints depicting the pleasure-filled world of Edo. The majority of these prints are unsigned and very few of the single prints survive today. He passed away in 1694.

 

Moronobu is considered the father of ukiyo-e. While some may credit him as the founder, this is not entirely accurate. Instead, his dramatic and innovative style represents the first mature form of ukiyo-e, consolidating earlier styles and setting the standard for artists to come. Moronobu’s prints play with parody and literary themes, taking established tales and framing them in the world of Edo. These works formed the basic styles and popular genres of ukiyo-e.

Japanese Woodblock Prints (1600 - 1800)

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The Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei

Moronobu

The Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei

JP1-20961

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The Writing Lesson

Moronobu

The Writing Lesson

JP1463

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Good Times

Moronobu

Good Times

JP2170

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Tsuriage (hanging)

Moronobu

Tsuriage (hanging)

JP-98291

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Niseotoko

Moronobu

Niseotoko

JP-98294

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Happy to Meet Her at Night

Moronobu

Happy to Meet Her at Night

JP-110920

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