Harunobuís career of painting woodblock prints began in
1725 and lasted until 1770.
As a student of Shigenaga, he soon became one of the
most cherished of all Ukiyo-e style artists.
In fact, historians tell us that Harunobu was an
innovator. In 1765, he has credit for being the first artist to produce
full-color prints, which meant the older style of two and
three-color prints was put to rest.
The other issue surrounding Harunobu that makes him
unique is that he ventured away from standard techniques,
coming up with new, innovative methods of painting.
In addition, this artist was known for painting a
large variety of things ranging from contemporary style
beautiful women to classical poems.
Just as many other famous artists from this period,
Harunobu became involved with painting exotic women in the
Shunga style. He
was so detailed and skilled at what he did that a number of
other artists began to imitate Harunobuís style, actually
allowing him to become known as an incredible master.
A large amount of Harunobuís work was done in Edo
style. If you
were to look at some other artists such as those from the
Kano School and Kawamata School, you would see strong
influences from other artists in his artwork.
While you would see a number of artists in
Harunobuís paintings, Nishikawa Sukenobu, who was one of
his teachers, is probably the one that had the greatest
When Harunobu first got started, he used the Torii
This meant that while his paintings were beautiful,
they were not magnificent. As he became involved with different Samurai, he began to
experiment with various styles and techniques, moving him to
the forefront of the woodblock print world.
By 1764, his art helped him land a job in creating
calendars, which at that time, were rare.
The detailing and color was so impressive that soon,
the calendars, as well as woodblock prints, would be
exchanged and sold at festivals and other Edo events.
The calendars created by Harunobu were unique in that
they used lunar calculations in the images.
The way in which the calendars were made resulted in
the first brocade prints, which launched Harunobu to
notoriety and wealth. Over
time, this artist began using a higher quality wood to
create woodblock prints such as cherry.
He discovered that the coloring of the prints was far
more vibrant, giving the painting a wonderful, opaque
Finally, Harunobu continued his experiments,
developing separate blocks for a single image.
In addition, this artist was the first using the
Ukiyo-e style to use more than three colors on each print,
something originally unheard of.
This type of full-color production propelled him into
becoming the number one producer of Kabuki actors in the
late 18th century.
His legacy was that of a talented master of Ukiyo-e,
specifically in the last three years of life.