Uncovering information specific to Asian woodblock
artists is typically not difficult.
However, when it comes to the artist, Sugimura, the
truth is that very little is known.
We do know that he was a Japanese Ukiyo-e printmaker
who began his career in 1681 and stopped in 1703.
This artist’s full name was Sugimura Jihei.
He created beautiful and detailed woodblock prints
specific to Ukiyo-e, which is the “image of the floating
addition, Ukiyo is actually the term associated with
Buddhism, cover suffering and sadness while a person lives
on earth. The
“e” is related to Edo, which is the current day Tokyo.
Therefore, an artist such as Sugimura who was an
Ukiyo-e printmaker you would know that he focused much of
his work on the world of Buddha while painting in Tokyo.
Keep in mind that during the 6th and 17th
centuries, changes were made with woodblock prints now
focusing more on everyday life.
In fact, art at this time became very descriptive,
which was seen in extreme detailing.
Then, beautiful women became a primary focus with
special attention being made to the clothes and white faces,
actually becoming the foundation on which Ukiyo-e and prints
Then, a book illustrator by the name of Hishikawa
Moronobu created as many as 150 books.
As the son of an embroiderer, Hishikawa learned his
trade with top masters from Kanoo and Tosa schools.
As a part of his illustration and paintings, this man
created many “floating world” pieces, focusing on
theater scenes. While many of his pieces had stereotyped faces, the
interaction and movement of the characters made him famous.
Many of Hishikawa’s books were a huge success,
actually having single sheets sold, which started art prints
in Japan. Since
color printing was unavailable at this time, he was required
to prepare the block prior to printing while being highly
means each sheet sold was beautifully hand-painted so there
were no two prints identical.
Around this same period, Sugimura Jihei also started
selling prints. In
this case, his work was very different from Hishikawa,
usually depicting scenes of favorite legends.
What make Sugimura stand out is that no other artist
was focusing attention on this area at that time.
The prints were of good quality and the faces were
far more expressive than the work of Hishikawa.
While there is little known about Sugimura, we do
know that his illustrations were often first attributed to