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Biography: Kitagawa TOYOHIDE (北川豊秀)

Kitagawa Toyohide 1843 Miyamoto Musashi
Kitagawa Toyohide I print from 3/1843
Arashi Tokusaburô II as Miyamoto Musashi 
Katakiuchi ganryûjima, Kado Theater, Osaka




Kitagawa Toyohide signatureKitagawa Toyohide (北川豊秀 act. c. 1838–43) produced a small number of actor prints for a brief time during the years leading up to and slightly overlapping the Tenpô kaikaku (Tenpô Reforms: 天保改革) of 1842, edicts that virtually halted print production in Osaka for five years. So Toyohide's brief period of activity came up against the widespread ban on actor prints, which perhaps was a factor in bringing his career to an end. As a result, barely a dozen designs are known by Toyohide, and today impressions of any of these prints are infrequently encountered. Surprisingly, he did manage to have a design published in early 1843, even after the Tenpô kaikaku was already in effect (although inconsistently enforced, it would seem) — see the image at the left.

On at least two print designs, Toyohide's signature appears within a toshidama-style cartouche ("New Year's jewel" or "New Year's gift": 年玉), a type of year-seal used as the crest of the Utagawa school of artists). The presence of this seal indicates a possible connection with the Edo-based artist Utagawa Kunisada I (歌川國貞 later Toyokuni III 豊國 1786-1865), although Toyohide's use of "Toyo" (豊) in his name precedes Kunisada's taking of the Toyokuni name in 1844. Whether this might suggest, instead, that Toyohide had an early apprenticeship with Utagawa Toyokuni I (歌川豊國 1769-1825), albeit more than a decade before Toyohide's first known prints, cannot yet be verified.

To complicate matters further, the Osaka print scholar Hendrick Lühl (unpublished correspondence) has determined that there was a second artist named Toyohide (dates unknown), also signing "Kitagawa Toyohide" (北川豊秀) or Utagawa Toyohide (歌川豊秀), or simply "Toyohide" (豊秀) who worked in the post-Tenpô chûban format (circa 1862–63). Moreover, Toyohide II was the earlier name for the artist Hasegawa Munehiro (長谷川宗廣 act. c. 1848-1862) who was a pupil of Hasegawa Sadanobu I (長谷川貞信 [一代] act. c. 1848–63), as there is a chûban tetraptych from 1862 signed Muehiro kaimei Kitagawa Toyohide ("Munehiro changing his name to Kitagawa Toyohide [II]": 宗廣改名北川豊秀).

Toyohide names


Kitagawa (北川); also used in signatures (see image above right)

Art names (geimei):

Toyohide (豊秀)

Pseudonyms ():

Ichiryûtei (一流)
Isshintei (一信亭)

Pupils of Toyohide

No pupils of the first Toyohide have so far been identified.