Officially known as Hishikawa Moronobu, this Japanese
artist was born in 1613 and died in 1694. Working in his prime years as a printmaker and painter of the
Ukiyo-e style, Moronobu was best known for his incredible
advancement in the art form.
Born to a gold/silver thread embroiderer and dyer, he
had a unique opportunity to learn a special craft, which
propelled him in his own Kano and Tosa painting styles.
However, as Moronobu moved forward in his career, his
style changed somewhat to exotic pieces, learning from the
great Ukiyo-e master, Kamburi.
Moronobu would go on to create some spectacular and
unique pieces but his first signed and dated work was in
1672 with the creation of book illustrations.
Historians believe that this artist completed as many
as 150 illustrated books during his career.
While he excelled as a Ukiyo-e printmaker, Moronobu
also produced other pieces, many being with an erotic flare,
to include heterosexual and pederastic.
Unfortunately, the majority of this artistís
single-sheet prints were lost.
During this era, many fine artists made their impact
but Moronobu was noted as being the artist that first
created mature Ukiyo-e styles, which would go on to set the
future standards for new generations.
One particular piece developed by Moronobu was a set
of 12 Shunga. In
this collection, some of the prints were made with black
pigment only, known as Sumi-e while others were created with
beautiful, hand coloring.
The idea of grouping paintings in groups of 12 was
adopted from the master Tosa Mitsunobu who made this a
normal part of his creations.
Many of these prints were seasonal progressions.
However, Moronobu took this style and modified it to
his own preference to include straight lines and curves,
again focusing on erotic designs.
This new twist on an existing style opened new doors
The life of Moronobu was an interesting one.
In addition to being a magnificent Ukiyo-e artist,
one that preferred to focus on a genre different from other
artists, he was also a writer and publisher.
Remember, an independent discipline of Ukiyo-e was
not established at this time.
However, Moronobu was devoted to what he loved, which
included paintings of beautiful women and erotica.
Therefore, he left many of his masterpieces depicting
Edo people such as prostitutes, brothels, and so on, by
heading away from traditional Japanese schools.