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Biography: Yûrakusai NAGAHIDE (有樂齋長秀)

Shokosai hosoban 1797
A Nagahide hexagonal-format print from 1807
Sawamura Tanosuke as keisei Azuma &
Arashi Sangorô as Yamazaki Yogorô
Stencil print (kappazuri-e)




Nagahide signatureNagahide signatureYûrakusai Nagahide (act. c, 1799-1842) represents a curious case of an artist who worked simultaneously and on a large scale over many years with both stencil-prints (kappazuri-e, 合羽摺絵) and full-color prints (nishiki-e or brocade-print: 錦絵). He also experimented with a range of formats, including hosoban (細判 approx. 330 x 150 mm), distinctive hexagonal kappazuri-e, and hashira-e (pillar prints: 柱絵 approx. 750 x 130 mm) that were otherwise rarely encountered in Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka region). While Nagahide did turn to nishiki-e in the ôban format (大判 approx. 370 x 280 mm) by the late 1810s, he worked with stencil prints (usually in the hosoban format) from around the late 1790s-early 1800s through the early 1840s. Around 1831, three decades into his career, Nagahide was listed in Naniwa shoryū gajin meika annai (Guide to the many famous contemporary artists of Osaka: 浪華諸流画人名家案内) as both an actor portraitist and a block copyist (hikkô: 筆耕).

Along with Shôkôsai Hanbei, Nagahide was a pupil of Ryûkôsai Jokei. indeed, his early works in hosoban format drew upon his teacher's approach toward facial likenesses (nigao). Nagahide introduced his kappazuri-e as early as 1799. Occasionally, he adopted Kyoto-based mannerisms for his actors, endowing them with slimmer physiognomies and bodies. More frequently, however, his early prints, particularly actor prints (yakusha-e: 役者絵), were close in style to Ryûkôsai's and Shôkôsai's prints and paintings. Even so, having an active period of more than three decades, there was time enough for Nagahide's nigao to shift from the influence of Ryûkôsai to a more personalized manner of actor likenesses, which is especially evident in his ôban nishiki-e. In these works, the style is more curvilinear and flowing, in keeping with the trend throughout Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka region) printmaking of the later 1810s through the 1850s.

In the 1810s–30s, Nagahide found an especially fertile field when he became the most prolific designer of Gion nerimono-e(祇園邌物絵) or prints of the costume parades in the Gion quarter of Kyoto. One series of roughly 160 known stencil prints in hosoban-format with designs by various artists was titled Gion mikoshi arai nerimono sugata (Fashionable costume parades in Gion: 祇園神輿洗 ねりもの姿). Nagahide produced at least 26 designs for this series in 1813-18.

Nagahide’s earliest nishiki-e seem to date from around 1818. Starting around 1820, his ôban nishiki-e appear steadily from that point forward. By this time, the stylistically amplified and more curvilinear ôban-sheet body types and facial likenesses had replaced the rigid and raw countenances found in Ryûkôsai, Shôkôsai, and early Nagahide. In their place is a refinement of nigao exemplified by a sinuosity in the rendering of faces, bodies, and robes, and accompanied by a more expansive and flowing manner of drawing abetted by the increase in sheet size, courtesy of the ôban format.

Nagahide's names

Nakamura (中村 sometimes found as 中邑)

Personal names (jinmei):
Arichika (有愼)
Aritsune (有恒)

Art names ():
 (長秀) see smaller image at upper right
Chôshûsai (長秀齋)
Yûrakusai (ûrakusai 有樂齋 see larger image at upper right)

In the shape of an octopus (possibly composed of highly stylized characters)

Nagahide's pupils

Nagahide had few pupils. Perhaps the best known is Nagakuni (長國 act. c. 1816–17), who was a different artist from the print designer using that name briefly around 1813, but who then produced far more prints while using the later name Gigadô Ashiyuki (戯画堂芦幸 act. c. 1813-1833).

Nagahide's pupils included:
Ashiyuki (戯画堂芦幸) earlier name Nagakuni (長國 act. c. 1816–17)
Nagashige (長重 act. c. 1804-1818)
Hidemaro (秀麿 act. c. 1820-1822)
Hidekuni (英國 act. c. 1827)
Hidekatsu (秀勝 dates uncertain)
Nagayoshi (長吉 act. c. 1816) unconfirmed (possibly a pupil)

For more information about Nagahide, see John Fiorillo's web page: