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Chikanobu (1838 - 1912)

Two Brothers Choko and Chorei (Zhang Xiao and Zhang Li)

Series: 24 Paragons of Filial Piety
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1891
Size (H x W): 14.25 x 9.25 (inches)
Publisher: Hasegawa Tsunejiro
Signature: Yoshu Chikanobu
Condition: Very good color, impression and state, slightly trimmed bottom edge, two small ink spots upper right, embellished with burnishing.
$385.00 $480.00

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Description

The brothers Choko and Chorei (known as Zhang Xiao and Zhang Li) dutifully cared for their elderly mother. One day, as Choko returned home with an armful of cabbage, he encountered a band of robbers. The boy had nothing to offer them but his life, which he offered with one request: to deliver the cabbage to his mother before his death. The robbers agreed. When Choko returned to face his end, his brother Chorei had joined him, and offered his life in exchange for Choko’s life. The robbers were so touched by this show of selflessness that the boys were both released.

About the artist

Chikanobu Toyohara (also known as Chikanobu Yoshu) was a leading woodblock print artist of the Meiji Period. Born in Niigata prefecture as Naoyoshi Hashimoto, Chikanobu began his life as the son of samurai in the service of the Sakakibara clan. During the Meiji Restoration, he joined the shogitai, an elite samurai brigade in direct support of the waning Tokugawa Shogunate and fought bravely in the Battle of Ueno in 1868. Though captured in the fray, he was released unharmed. As the Shogunate fell, Chikanobu focused on a career in art.

Though trained in Kano school painting from an early age, Chikanobu shifted his attention to ukiyo-e around 1852. Chikanobu began his woodblock printmaking career under the tutelage of Utagawa School masters Kuniyoshi, Kunisada and Kunichika. Like many of his contemporaries, Chikanobu Toyohara worked as a newspaper illustrator as well as a print artist. By 1871, he had established himself as a leading print artist. He designed across all genres, from kabuki actors and beauties to military exploits of past and present. During the 1870s, Chikanobu captured Meiji Japan’s rapid modernization through kaika-e, or “enlightenment pictures.” Attuned to current events and public taste, he produced designs of both the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, an ill-fated insurrection against the Meiji government, and well as the 1882 Imo Incident in Korea. Chikanobu’s reflected his changing world not only through his subject matter, but also in his materials. Incorporating the purples and reds of imported aniline dyes, he achieved an element of subtlety and sophistication rarely seen in his era. By the 1880s, a wave of national nostalgia for a Japan past prompted designs exploring traditional Japanese culture, values, and heroes. Through explorations of female beauty, Chikanobu Toyohara personified moments in Japanese history through fashion, manners and customs. In 1912, he died of stomach cancer.