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Biography: Kaishuntei Sadayoshi (魁春亭貞芳)

Kaishuntei Sadayoshi
Kaishuntei Sadayoshi print from 8/1842
Sawamura Tokiwa (沢村ときわ) as
Taruya Osen (樽やおせん)
Meisaku kiriko no akebono (名作切籠曙), Onishi Theater
Pub: Wataya Kihei (綿屋喜兵衞)




Kaishuntei Sadayoshi signatureUtagawa Sadayoshi signatureKaishuntei Sadayoshi (魁春亭貞芳), active c. 1832-1853, was a pupil of Gochôtei Kunimasu [Sadamasu] (五蝶亭國升 [貞升]) in Osaka and Utagawa Kunisada I (一代 國貞) in Edo. He produced designs for over 140 woodblock prints, with the majority in smaller sizes (chûban, koban, mameban), although about one-third were in the larger ôban format. His surviving paintings are few, but they exhibit notable skill in brushwork and chromatic potency.

Sadayoshi worked with 14 different publishers, most frequently Tenmaya Kihei 天満屋喜兵衛), and portrayed at least 38 actors who, in total, performed in eight or more theaters. A small number his prints (around 8%) were published as jôzuri-e (top quality or deluxe editions: 上摺絵). Nearly every design is a yakusha-e (actor print: 役者絵), although there are two known sumô-e (wrestler prints: 相撲絵) and two bijinga (pictures of beautiful women: 美人画) that happen to also be rare double-ôban kappazuri-e (stencil prints: 合羽摺絵). There are, as well, a few mameban designs related to historical military events where the faces are not intended to be actor likenesses, that is, they are generic physiognomies. In a similar realm, some musha-e (warrior prints: 武者絵) by Sadayoshi have also been documented.

Moreover, Sadayoshi participated in a collaborative series, along with Gosôtei Sadahiro, that featured reduced-size (koban) copies of prints from the series Tôkaidô gojûsan tsui (Fifty-three Pairs [Parallels] of the Tôkaidô: 東海道五十三対) published in Edo and itself a collaboration by three leading Utagawa artists in Edo — Kuniyoshi, Kunisada I, and Hiroshige I. Sadayoshi contributed 26 designs, while Sadahiro provided 30 images. Copies such as these were common enough to suggest that print consumers in Osaka enjoyed works by local artists that went beyond the actor-print genre, regardless of how familiar they might have been with the Edo originals.

Among Sadayoshi's ôban-format designs is the fine deluxe-edition example shown on the left, a portrayal of Sawamura Tokiwa (沢村ときわ) as Taruya Osen (樽やおせん) in Meisaku kiriko no akebono (名作切籠曙) at the ônishi Theater, Osaka. It was issued just after the start of the Tenpô kaikaku ("Tenpô Reforms": 天保改革), edicts that in 7/1742 banned, among other things, actor prints or published stories associated with kabuki. Presumably, the blocks had been cut before the edicts actually took effect and so were allowed to be used when the play was staged on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month.

Sadayoshi's names/signatures/seals

Utagawa (歌川) see signature with seal at top right

Personal Name::
Higoya Sadashichirô (肥後屋貞七郎)

Art names (geimei):
Sadayoshi (貞芳)

Art pseudonyms ():
Baisôen (梅窓園)
Gofûtei (五飄亭)
Gohyôtei (五瓢亭)
Kaishuntei (魁春亭) see signature at top far right
Kokuhyôtei (國瓢亭)
Aoiseisai (葵生齋) on a bijin kakemono kappazuri-e

Poetry Name (haimyô):
Baisōen Kinkin (梅窓園琴金)

Pupils of Sadayoshi

Utagawa Yoshitsugu (歌川芳次 act. c. 1830s)

The information on this page has been adapted from John Fiorillo's Kaishuntei Sadayoshi web page: