The series Naniwa hyakkei no uchi most likely followed closely upon the publication in 1856-58 of Utagawa Hiroshige's Meisho Edo
hyakkei ("One hundred views of the famous places in Edo"). Without denying the debt owed to the Edo master, there has been
some debate over whether to judge Sadanobu's effort as mere copying of Hiroshige or as a reworking of his imagery and style to reflect
Sadanobu's intimate knowledge of the Kamigata region.
Without denying the debt owed to the Edo master, there has been some debate over whether to judge Sadanobu's efforts in this and related series as mere copying of Hiroshige or as a reworking of his imagery and style to reflect Sadanobu's intimate knowledge of the Kamigata region. The scholar Matsudaira Susumu believed that other influences included ehon meisho (illustrated books of famous places: 絵本名所) by such Kamigata artists as Shunchôsai whose designs often featured written commentaries and contemplative style was similar to many Sadanobu fûkeiga (landscape prints: 風景画).*
The scholar R. Keyes (see TWOP in the Bibliography) has suggested that
Sadanobu's landscapes signed with sha ("copied by"), as here, often owe a more direct debt to specific designs by
Hiroshige, compared to those signed with ga or hitsu ("drawn by" or "painted by"). However,
"copied" is rather too strong a word for Sadanobu's adaptations, and it is not immediately clear which Hiroshige composition
might have served as inspiration for the Gohyaku Rakan design. (Compare, however, our example of Sadanobu's more direct
harimaze copy of Hiroshige's Edo series, which is signed with ga.)
Gohyaku Rakan were disciples of the Buddha who had attained Nirvana. Their images were enshrined at Myotoku-ji and became so popular that
the temple was referred to simply as the Gohyaku Rakan. The temple no longer exists on the original site, which is now Fukushima Park.
To reach the Myotoku-ji, nestled among pine trees, visitors cross over a small bridge spanning a canal. This is a design from only a handful of
landscape series depicting views in and around Osaka. It is not entirely understood why fûkei-ga
(landscape pictures) never became popular on a scale at all comparable to those in Edo, but they remained rare in kamigata-e until
series like Sadanobu's appeared in the late 1850s.
The series title is given in the rectangular cartouche, the print title in the square cartouche. A long inscription covering the top left half
of the composition explains more about the temple. The series was published by Wataki, identifed by an inscription in the right margin (trimmed
off in the present example) reading Osaka Wataya Kihei-ban ("Publisher Wataya Kihei of Osaka"). Unlike our impression, designs
from this series are typically found in poorly preserved condition.
References: TUS, no. 13; TWOP, p. 193; HSH, no. 181 (series)*