Born in Niigata prefecture, Chikanobu Toyohara (né Naoyoshi Hashimoto) began his life as a samurai in the shogun’s court. He was trained in Kano school painting but shifted his attention to ukiyo-e around the Meiji Restoration of 1867. He began his printmaking career under the tutelage of Utagawa masters Kuniyoshi, Kunisada and Kunichika. Like many of his contemporaries, Chikanobu also worked as a newspaper illustrator. He designed prints in all genres, from kabuki actors to historical military scenes, but he is most recognized for his portrayal of women’s fashions, pastimes and customs. These works trace the movement of traditional Japanese culture into the more modern world that emerged after Commodore Perry’s arrival in 1854 and the resulting modernization. While many of the prints from this era feature the bright, opaque appearance of aniline dyes, Chikanobu maintains an aspect of subtlety even with the use of these synthetic colors.
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable - George Bernard