Edo Hishikawa Woodblock print
Suzuki (orig. Hozumi) Harunobu. F.N.: Jihei. Go: Choeiden, Shikojin.
Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker who lived in Edo. His early works, of actors, show the influence of Ishikawa Toyonobu, Nishikawa Sukenobu, and the Torii artists rather than of his reputed master Nishimura Shigenaga. In 1765, taking full advantage of the newly invented technique of polychrome printing, he began issuing prints in a delightful and daring variety of colors. His prints were no longer of the actors of his earlier period; they now showed an enchanted world of young girls, men, and charming courtesans that captivated the Edo public. In the five remaining years of his life, he published over 500 prints and dominated the ukiyo-e world. Even though he can be criticized on the grounds of too much sentimentality and cloying sweetness, he must be given full credit for the new direction in subject matter and for his brilliant use of the new technique of printing. He is as widely known for his prints of the innocent young as for his erotica, printed in the same impressive range of colors but designed with a lustiness that contrasted strongly with his other work. He was one of the most influential masters of the ukiyo-e, and for a time put actor prints, which were the primary subject matter of the Torii school, practically out of fashion. To this day Harunobu remains one of the most popular members of the school. As he worked as a color-print artist only ten to twelve years, his prints fetch high prices and were often imitated. Most of his prints are small, almost square, and are the earliest examples in which a background is introduced.