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THE ARTIST Ė HARUNOBU

Suzuki 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 influence. 

When Harunobu first got started, he used the Torii School style. 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 effect. 

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.


Read more about Japanese Woodblock Prints:
  Japanese Woodblock Prints   Ukiyo-e   Toyokuni Utagawa   Eisen Kikugawa   Hiroshige Ando   Utamaro Kitigawa

 

Visit our online store for dozens of Japanese Woodblock Prints

Click here to see our current selection.
 
The Great Wave by Hokusai
The Great Wave by Hokusai
Code:fw1002
Price:$27.95
Kabuki by Utagawa
Kabuki by Utagawa
Code:fw1121
Price:$27.95
3 Beauties by Utamaro
3 Beauties by Utamaro
Code:fw1118
Price:$27.95
General in Battle by Utagawa
General in Battle by Utagawa
Code:fw1120
Price:$27.95
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Mt Fuji by Hiroshige
Code:fw1010
Price:$27.95
 

 


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