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Archive: Sadanobu (貞信)

Kawaguchi no shinkei (True view of Kawaguchi: 川口の真景) from the series Naniwa hyakkei no uchi (Set of 100 Views of Osaka: 廣田社雪景)
Sadanobu sha (貞信冩)
No artist seal
Wataki (Wataya Kihei, 綿屋喜兵衞)
Circa 1869-70
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e
17.5 x 25.0 cm
Excellent color; good condition (unbacked; several small filled wormholes; very light stains in margin)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: SDN14


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. Without denying the debt owed to the Edo master, 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 Takehara Shunchôsai (竹原松朝齋) whose designs often featured written commentaries and a contemplative style similar to many Sadanobu fûkeiga (landscape prints: 風景画). Matsudaira also argued that small-format prints such as the chûban sheets in this series (and especially the even smaller koban and mameban formats in other series) required special skills not only to draw effective scenic views but also to carve and print the designs.*


During the Edo period, at the delta of the Ajigawa and Kizugawa rivers, there was a shogunate guardhouse that tracked ships entering Osaka. However, in 1864 the guardhouse was raised and three years later, the government began to develop the site and neighboring areas. By July of 1868, lots were auctioned off exclusively for foreigners in Kawaguchi.

The original wrapper for this series had a more complete title: Naniwa hyakkei meisho shashin kagami (A Mirror of 100 Famous Views of Osaka — Truthfully Copied: 浪花百景名所写真鏡); the series was never completed — approximately 63 designs known. This evocative rain scene is unquestionably one of the best designs in the series. Framed by the masts and ropes of a cargo vessel, we can see in the distance, through a heavy downpour, a guardhouse at the convergence of the Aji and Kizu Rivers. The outpost was torn down in 1864. Although quite different in most of its details, Sadanobu's design was possibly inspired by Utagawa Hiroshige's Teppô Inaribashi Minato Jinja from the celebrated Meisho Edo hyakkei.

References: HSH, no. 181 (series)*

中判(17.5 x 25.0 cm)