Color, Costume and Ceremony: The World of Hashimoto Chikanobu

  • Exhib_slideshow_chikanobu_25681_2

    Chikanobu, "Ikaho Spa, Foreigners at a Festive Meal with a Bath House in the Background," 1883 (25681).

November 10, 2011 - January 15, 2012
Robert F. Lange Foundation Gallery (21)

Exhibition Overview

Hashimoto Chikanobu (1838-1912) was one of the most prolific and successful print artists of the Meiji period. He is best known for intricate nishiki-e (brocade pictures) illustrating the elaborate pageantry of courts past and present and featuring beautiful women in sumptuous costumes. His interest in traditional themes and methods of depiction relate his work closely to the ukiyo-e of the Edo period, but he recast historical scenes in the intense colors and exaggerated theatricality that so appealed to a Meiji audience. Also important were his portrayals of contemporary political events and images of the imperial family. The exhibition, drawn from prints in the Academy collection, presents works that both reflect Chikanobu’s nostalgia for the past and represent the role of the Meiji print designer in the celebration of the new modern nation of Japan.

Chikanobu came of age during the Edo period. Born into a samurai family, he was trained in the martial arts and was, by all accounts, a skilled swordsman. He fought with great courage on the side of the Tokugawa and against the imperial forces, continuing his resistance even after the collapse of the shogunate in 1868. His career as an independent artist began in Tokyo in 1871, and his finest work dates from the late 1870s through the 1890s. His prints are worthy on several levels: as an early type of documentation, as a participant in the construction of an emerging national identity, and perhaps most importantly, as a rich and complex visual delight.