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Biography: Hasegawa SADANOBU I (長谷川貞信)

Hasegawa Sadanobu I nerimono-e
Hasegawa Sadanobu I print from 6/1836
Matsuume of the Moritaya as a palace maid




Sadanobu I signatureHasegawa Sadanobu I (長谷川貞信 1809-1879) was active from 1834 to 1879. We know that his addresses in Osaka included Andôji-machi Naniwabashi-suji and later on in Horie Ichinogawa. His personal names were Naraya Bunkichi (奈良屋文吉), Naraya Tokubei (奈良屋徳兵衛), and Senzô (専蔵). He also sang jôruri under the name Rankô (蘭孝). At a young age, he found employment as an apprentice in a wholesale shop operated by the main branch of the Hasegawa family called Narachû (良忠) in Kitakyutarô-machi (北久太郎町), Edo, which sold washi (handmade paper: 和紙). When that family business closed, Sadanobu, who by then had already begun his art studies (see below), concentrated on designing ukiyo-e prints.

Sadanobu first studied with the Shijô painter Ueda Kôchô (act. c. early-mid 19th C.), and possibly later with the Edo master Utagawa Kunisada. In Osaka it appears that he also trained with Ryûsai Shigeharu and Gochôtei Sadamasu [later Gochôtei Kunimasu]. He was adopted briefly by the publisher Tenmaya Kihei (at which point Sadanobu took the personal name Senzô), and was also closely linked with Konishi Hirosada, although apparently not as a pupil. Sadanobu had pupils of his own (see list below).

Sadanobu I was a prolific artist, at least by the standards of the Osaka publishing industry (i.e., much smaller than the Edo-based Utagawa juggernaut). Beginning c. 1834, he designed around 200 yakusha-e (actor prints: 役者絵), some counted among the best examples of the period. These were done in both ôban (大判 approx. 370 x 280 mm) and chûban (中判 250 x 180 mm) formats. Sadanobu also produced a large number of fûkeiga (landscapes: 風景画) totaling roughly 450, including some skillfully rendered, very small-format mameban ("bean-print": 豆判 approx. 130x100 mm down to 100x65 mm or smaller!) that were downsized copies of ôban nishiki-e by Utagawa Hiroshige I. He also produced his own original Hiroshige-style designs, such as the chûban nishiki yoko-e series Naniwa hyakkei no uchi (From the 100 Views of Osaka, c. late 1850s) or the series Miyako meisho no uchi (Famous places in the capital: 都名所之内) from 1870-1871 published by Wataya Kihei (大坂綿屋喜兵衛梓).

His small number of bijinga (pictures of beautiful women: 美人画) include some chûban sets in the Edo-Utagawa style, including the series Naniwa jiman meibutsu zukushi (Collection of celebrated specialties from Osaka: 浪華自慢名物盡). These are standouts in Osaka printmaking. Among the very few bijinga designed by any Osaka artist are the nerimono-e (邌物絵) or pictures of the annual costume parades in Kamigata. For example, across the canal north of Osaka's Dôtonbori theater district was an area called Shimanouchi, the city’s largest unofficial pleasure quarter. Shimanouchi hosted a parade each summer featuring waitresses, geisha, and courtesans dressed in costumes and portraying, in skits or pantomimes, figures from contemporary society, theater, history, and legend. The women were sometimes accompanied by decorative floats carrying musicians and dancers. One of Sadanobu's contributions to the collaborative series Shimanouchi nerimono (Costume parade in Shinmanouchi: 島之内ねりもの) published in 6/1836, is shown on the left. The deluxe print depicts Matsuume (まつ梅) of the Moritaya (森田屋) as a palace maid (hashitame: はした女). The other artists involved with this series were Shunbaisai Hokuei, Shunshôsai Hokuju (春松齋北壽 a pupil of Hokuei), Gochôtei Sadahiro (五蝶亭貞廣), and Ryûsai Shigeharu.

Also to be counted among Sadanobu's works, starting in the late 1850s, were some tatebanko ("Standing printing-block models" or dioramas: 立版古), which became something of a Hasegawa artist-family specialty in the late Edo and Meiji periods. One such tatebanko comprised 14 separate sheets meant to be cut up and assembled as a three-dimensional display for the final act of the great kabuki and puppet play Kanadehon chûshingura (Copybook of the treasury of loyal retainers: 假名手本忠臣藏).

In addition to his numerous yakusha-e and fûkeiga, Sadanobu was also involved in many other genres. He produced some kachôga (nature pictures, or bird and flower prints: 花鳥画), and occasionally, musha-e (warrior prints: 武者絵) in mameban format, kodomo-e (pictures of children: 子供絵) in ôban format, jiji-e (current events prints: 時事絵), and chizu (maps: 地図). For some lighthearted fare, Sadanobu designed small-format prints for the series Dôke kyôga zukushi (Myriad crazy pictures from plays: 童戯狂画尽). In addition, he contributed designs for various book genres, including e-iri nehon (illustrated kabuki playbooks: 絵入根本), kyôkabon (collections of humorous verses: 狂歌本), kokkeibon (popular books of humor or satire with a single story: 滑稽本), hanashibon (popular humorous books with various anecdotes or stories: 噺本), jitsurokubon ("true tale books" or non-fiction: 実録本), and oraimono (primary education textbooks: 往来物). What are most commonly encountered in the book genre are Sadanobu's rather plentiful illustrations for covers and contents of utahon (songbooks: 唄本 or 歌本).

Sadanobu's I's names and signatures

Hasegawa (長谷川)
Konishi (小西) in 1843

Personal names (jinmei):
Naraya Bunkichi (奈良屋文吉) childhood name
Naraya Tokubei (奈良屋徳兵衛) later name
Senzô (専蔵) as adopted son of the publisher Tenki in 1843

Notes: Sadanobu's father's name was Hasegawa Jisuke (長谷川治助) and his mother's name Rokujo (鹿女). The family business specialized in high-quality chakin (茶巾 small rectangular cloths used to wipe teabowls during the tea ceremony); it operated under the name "Naraya" (奈良屋) and was located in Minami-senba, Andojibashi-dori, Naniwabashi-suji (南船場安堂寺橋通浪波橋筋), in Edo.

Art names (geimei):
Sadanobu (貞信)
Yûchô (有長)

Art pseudonyms ():
Gosôtei (五雙亭) also found as a geimei signature 1834
Nansô (南忩)
Nansôrô (南忩樓)
Sekka (雪花)
Sekkaen (雪花園) also found as a geimei signature c. 1848–55
Sekko (雪江)***
Shin'ô (信翁)
Shiten'ô (信天翁)
Kinkadô (金花堂)
Yûen (楢園)
Ryokuitsusai (緑一齋)
Rankô (蘭孝 as a jôruri singer)

Naniwatei (浪花亭) ? probably a different artist using the geimei "Sadanobu" c. 1823

Pupils of Sadanobu I

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

Sadamasa (貞政 act. c. 1834-1838)
Sadaharu (貞春 act. c. late 1830s-1840)
Nobuhiro (信廣 act. c. late 1830s-1840)
Munehiro (宗廣 later called Toyohide II, 豊秀, act. c. 1848–63)
Konobu I (一代目 小信 1848-1940 later Sadanobu II: 二代目 貞信)
Konobu II (二代目 小信 died in 1886 before he could produce many prints or take the Sadanobu geimei).

Sadanobu and Konobu art names (geimei)

Beginning with Sadanobu II, artists of the Hasegawa lineage all began their careers with the geimei "Konobu." The lineage has been entirely hereditary through direct descent within the same family (i.e., no adoptions or conferring of "Konobu" or "Sadanobu" geimei upon non-family members).

Sadanobu I
(一代目 貞信)
1809-1879 Active 1809-1879 (did not use the Konobu name); gave up the Sadanobu geimei to his son Konobu I sometime around 1875
Sadanobu II
(二代目 貞信)
1848-1940 Son of Sadanobu I; his given name was Tokutarô (徳太郎); first geimei was Konobu I (1867-c. 1875?); worked in father's style
Konobu II
(二代目 小信)
died July 1886 Konobu II, given name Sadakichi (貞吉), younger brother of Konobu I, designed a few works as Konobu II but died at age 20, never taking the Sadanobu geimei
Sadanobu III
(三代目 貞信)
1881-1963 Son of Sadanobu II, began as Konobu III; became Sadanobu III after his father's death; worked principally in the shin hanga manner
Sadanobu IV
(四代目 貞信)
1914-1999 Son of Sadanobu III; started as Konobu IV; continued working in the shin hanga style
Sadanobu V
(五代目 貞信)
born 1946 Daughter of Sadanobu IV; started as Konobu V until she ascended to the Sadanobu geimei in 2003

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