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Biography: Ashinoya HIRONOBU (芦野家廣信)

Hironobu 1865 tokusaburo
Hironobu print from 5/1865
Tokusaburô IV as Hangakujo
in Wada gassen onna maizuru
Woodcut, ôban format

 

 

 

Hironobu signatureHironobu Hakusui signatureAshinoya Hironobu (芦野家廣信 act. c. 1851-1872), whose surname was Kinoshita (木下), used at least six different art pseudonyms. He was a pupil of Konishi Hirosada (小西廣貞) and worked nearly exclusively as a designer of actor prints (yakusha-e: 役者絵) in the chûban format, the overwhelmingly dominant print size in Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka region) after the relaxation of shogunate regulations called the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô reforms: 天保改革), in effect from 6/1842 to 1/1847. Hironobu also designed kyôga (playful or comic pictures: 狂画) and e'iri nehon (Illustrated playbooks: 絵入根本).

In the 1860s, however, there was a limited renaissance of ôban-format printmaking in Osaka, particularly for deluxe sets of ôkubi-e ("large head" prints: 大首絵). Hironobu participated in designing a few prints for one such series titled Hana kurabe nishiki utsushie (A true comparison of brocade flowers [actors]: 華競錦写絵), a grouping to which the artist Ichiyôsai Yoshitaki (一養齋芳瀧) also contributed. The set of portraits was first issued as jôzuri-e ("top quality prints" or deluxe edition: 上摺絵) and then afterwards as namizuri-e (ordinary prints or standard edition: 並摺絵) without the use of metallic pigments.

One of these ôban designs by Hironobu is shown on the left, a jôzuri-e portrayal of Arashi Tokusaburô IV (嵐徳三郎) as Hangakujo (半がく女) in the play Wada gassen onna maizuru (The battles of Wada and the female dancing crane: 和田合戦女舞鶴) staged in 5/1865 at the Takeda Theater, Osaka. The printer-publisher for this design affixed his hand-stamped seal in the lower left margin, reading suri-shi (master printer) Horikame (摺師堀亀). In this instance, it would seem that Horikame was a master printer who likely distributed the deluxe design and thus acted as a publisher.

Hironobu's Names

Surname:
Kinoshita (木下)

Art Name (geimei):
Hironobu (廣信)

Art Pseudonyms ():
Ashinoya (芦野家)
Hakusui (白水) see signature in red cartouche at top right.
Hakusuisai (白水齋)
Goyôtei (五葉亭)
Gohotei (五蒲亭)
Tôrin (東林)

Pupils of Hironobu

The only pupil who seems to be identified in the standard literature is the artist known as Hironobu II (born 1844; act. c. 1870s-1880s), who also had the surname Kinoshita (木下) and used the Hakuhô (白蜂), Ryutô (柳塘), and Rosui (芦水).

For more information about Ashinoya Hironobu, see John Fiorillo's web page:
https://viewingjapaneseprints.net/texts/ukiyoe/hironobu.html.