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Biography: Gosôtei SADAHIRO I (五粽亭貞廣)

Kogado Sadahiro I Rikan as Hayato
Kogadô Sadahiro I ôban print from 1/1837
Arashi Rikan II as Sasahara Hayato
in Keisei Ogura no Shikishi




Sadanobu I signatureGosôtei Sadahiro I (五粽亭貞廣 act. c. 1830–1853) might have been a pupil of the Osaka Shijô-style painter Ueda Kôchô (上田公長 1788-1850), possibly around 1826. Regardless, he was for a brief time a pupil of Utagawa Kunisada I in Edo around 1828, and by 1830 he was designing prints in Osaka, where two of his addresses are known to have been Tatamiyamachi Mistuderasuji and Nanba Shinchi.

While Sadahiro I made his home and pursued his printmaking opportunities in Osaka, he also continued providing designs for woodblock-printed illustrated books (ehon: 絵本) in Edo during the early to mid-1830s. For example, in 1835, he produced the frontispieces for Heitei Ginkei's (平亭銀鶏 1790-1870) four-volume novel Naniwa zasshi chimata [machi] no uwasa (A miscellany of gossip about the town of Osaka: 浪華雑誌街能噂). The text includes the Edo author's opinions about Osaka in a series of imaginary conversations with the local citizenry. In the third volume there is a vivid colloquial "discussion" about various Osaka artists, including Utagawa Sadamasu, Ryûsai Shigeharu, Shunbaisai Hokuei, Tenmaya Kunihiro, and Sadahiro himself. Although self-promoting and fanciful, it constitutes the only surviving contemporaneous record of criticisms involving Osaka artists of the 1830s. The work identifies Sadahiro as a promising young artist.

Among other ehon illustrated by Sadahiro, there was the Ginkei issui — Nanka no yume ("Ginkei's doze, Nanka's Dream": 銀鶏一睡 ・ 南柯夢), preface date 1833, published in two volumes, 1835, by the aforementioned Heitei Ginkei. The text documented the popularity of art societies that gathered at restaurants and engaged in painting and calligraphy sessions. According to the preface written by the superstar Edo actor Ichikawa Danjûrô VII (七代目 市川團十郎, 1791-1859), the author Heitei Ginkei managed a shogakai (society for calligraphy and painting: 書画会) that met regularly on the twenty-fifth day of each month. Sadahiro's frontispiece for the book illustrates a meeting with 48 members, featuring Edo notables, past and present, such as the artists Keisai Eisen (渓斎英泉 1790–1848) and Utagawa Kuninao (歌川國直 1793-1854), the actors Ichikawa Danjûrô VII and Iwai Hanshirô III (三代目 岩井半四郎 1698-1759), and the playwrights Hanagasa Bunkyô (花笠文京 1785–1860) and Tatekawa Danshûrô (立川談洲樓, Uei Enba, 烏亭焉馬 1743–1822).

Sadahiro I produced some accomplished single-sheet actor portraits (yakusha-e: 役者絵), particularly in the beginning of his active period. Before 1842, his nishiki-e (full-color prints: 錦絵) were almost exclusively yakusha-e in the ôban format (大判 approx. 370 x 280 mm), except for a few ôban nerimono-e ("slow procession": 邌物絵) in the collaborative series Shimanouchi nerimono ("Costume Parade in the Shimanouchi District," 6/1836). After 1847, Sadahiro produced mostly chûban (中判 250 x 180 mm) yakusha-e. An example of a pre-1842 ôban sheet with an actor in a dynamic pose is shown at the top left. Arashi Rikan II performs as Sasahara Hayato in Keisei Ogura no shikishi (The courtesan and Ogura's colored paper: けいせい小倉色紙) at the Kado Theater, Osaka in 1/1837. Otherworldly "fox fires" (kitsunebi: 狐火) flicker above the actor as a fox watches.

Around 1835-1836, Sadahiro designed a small series (perhaps only three prints) of ôban-format horizontal landscapes (fûkei-yoko-e: 風景横絵) titled "Views of Osaka" (Naniwa fûkei no uchi: 浪華風景之内). These prints were in a mode very close to the fûkei-ga of the Edo masters Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川廣重 1797-1858) and Keisai Eisen (mentioned earlier). However, single-sheet landscapes of this type were exceedingly rare in Osaka. They were published by Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei: 天満屋喜兵衛), with whom Sadahiro had a close working relationship, and possibly even a position in the management of the firm.

There has been some conjecture that Sadahiro changed his name to Hirokuni in mid-1847, a few months after publishers began testing the post-Tenpô Reform ban (Tenpô kaikaku: 天保改革) against actor prints, which had been in effect from 6/1842 until 1/1847 in Osaka. Immediately thereafter, it has been suggested, Hirokuni changed his name to Hirosada. However, the claim that Sadahiro was the same artist as Hirokuni/Hirosada has not been universally accepted and remains problematic (see the page for Konishi Hirosada).

Sadahiro I's names and signatures

Nanakawa (南々川)
Utagawa (歌川)
Mitani (三谷)

Personal names (jinmei):
Kyômaruya Seijirô

Art names (geimei):
Sadahiro (貞廣)

Art pseudonyms ():
Gochôtei (五蝶亭)
Kôgadô (好画堂)
Ukiyo (浮世)
Gofukutei ? (五蝠亭)
Gorakutei (五樂亭)
Gosôtei (五粽亭) see signature at top right
Gokitei (五輝亭)

Pupils of Sadahiro I

Although there might have been a few artists who trained with Sadahiro I, there are as yet no documented or attributed pupils.

The information on this page has been adapted from John Fiorillo's Sadanhiro I web page: