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Biography: Gigadô ASHIYUKI (戯画堂芦幸)

Ashiyuki 1826 Kitsusaburo as Kowari Dennai
Ashiyuki print from 1/1826
Arashi Kitsusaburô II as Kowari Dennai
in Keisei ura no asagiri




Ashiyuki signatureGigadô Ashiyuki (戯画堂芦幸 active c. 1813–33) was an important early innovator within the Kamigata school of printmaking. A pupil of Kyôgadô Ashikuni (狂画堂芦國 act. c. 1801–20), Ashiyuki also signed with the name Nagakuni (長國 c. 1814–21).

The prolific Ashiyuki appears to have been the first to combine Shijō-style painterly elements (possibly derived from illustrated books, ehon, of the period) with the more densely colored ukiyo-e (浮世絵) manner of rendering figures. He might also have been the earliest Kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka, 上方) print artist to use “shell powder” (gofun: 胡粉) for snow and, on full-color single-sheet prints (nishiki-e: 錦絵), to have printers use color blocks without outlines for the forms. His chûban-format designs (中判 approx 250 x 180 mm) and horizontal ôban compositions (大判 approx. 370 x 280 mm) were among the earliest of their kind in Osaka.

Influenced by his teacher Ashikuni early in his career, Ashiyuki drew the faces of his actors in the standard rectilinear manner. As the fashion for drawing facial likenesses and figures evolved in Kamigata toward more curvilinear forms, Ashiyuki followed suit, although his faces were characterized by a somewhat exaggerated sharpness.

Ashiyuki designed many prints featuring Arashi Rikan II (嵐璃寛), corresponding with the actor’s rising popularity and a boost in Ashiyuki’s productivity. This focus on Rikan II was unusual if not unique among Ashiyuki’s contemporaries (before the artist Shunbaisai Hokuei, 春梅齋北英), all of whom overwhelmingly focused on Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門).

Late in his career, Ashiyuki was listed second (after Shunkôsai Hokushû, 春好齋北洲) on an unsigned single-sheet broadside naming the top actor-print designers in Osaka (Naniwa shoryū gajin meika annai, Guide to the many famous contemporary artists of Osaka, 浪華諸流画人名家案内) in the Deguchi collection, Wakayama.

Ashiyuki's names/signatures/seals

Possibly Kôzo (楮) in 1823

Art Names (geimei):
Note: Ashiyuki used four different combinations of kanji for his art name:
Ashiyuki (芦幸) c. 1814–19
Ashiyuki (蘆幸) c. 1814–17
Ashiyuki (芦由) c. 1821–23
Ashiyuki (芦雪) c. 1823 (on a seal)

Nagakuni (長國)

One of Ashiyuki's seals reads "Yu": ゆ (see red seal in image at upper right).

Art Pseudonym ():
Gigadô (戯画堂); see image at upper right.

Pupils of Ashiyuki

Ashiyuki's pupils included (in order of known years of activity):

Yukikuni (幸國 act. c. 1816)
Ashiharu (芦陽 act. c. 1824)
Okayodô Ashimaru (岡丈堂芦丸) act. c. 1824)

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