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Yamazaki Toshinobu (1857-1886)

Prints in Collection

Biographical Data


Yamazaki Toshinobu 山崎 年信 (1857-18861)

I have seen three sources of information on this artist - Laurance Roberts in his Dictionary of Japanese Artists, a Japanese wiki on the artist (山崎年信) and Roger Keyes' 1982 dissertation on Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) titled "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 1839-1892".  The three sources both corroborate and contradict each other.  Part of the confusion may be due to Yoshitoshi having three students using the artist name Toshinobu, two of which use the same kangi characters 年信 for the spelling of Toshinobu.2  Be that is it may, Keyes' dissertation is best relied upon and it immediately follows.  Roberts' information comes next followed by my incomplete and not to be trusted translation of the Japanese wiki entry.

Source: Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 1839-1892, Volume 2, Roger Keyes, 1983, p. 552.

 Family Name:
 Personal Name:  Tokusaburô
 Gô (artist name):  Nansai

Son of a barber; painted festival lanterns for Inari shrines from the age of 11; discovered by Yoshitoshi (c. 1870) and taken into his studio; stole a group of Yoshitoshi's drawings (c. 1883) and, after being discovered, left Tokyo and moved to Kyoto; designed illustrations for the Asano Newspaper in Kyoto; named as deceased on the Yoshitoshi memorial.

Source: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 184.
Real Name: Yamazaki Shinjiro; Familiar Name: Tokusaburo; Go= Sensai, Shunko, Toshinobu. Ukiyo-e printmaker.  Pupil first of Kunisada, then of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892).  Lived in Tokyo and Yokohama.  Member of the Yokohama school of printmakers.  Also worked as an illustrator of books and newspapers.

Source: Japanese wiki http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B1%B1%E5%B4%8E%E5%B9%B4%E4%BF%A
This wiki contains the most extensive information on this artist.  I have culled some information from the Japanese text, but for any readers of Japanese with interest please consult the original wiki. 

Yamazaki Toshinobu was born in Edo to a poor family.  His father was a green grocer.  He started his studies with Yoshitoshi at 13. He created thirty woodblock prints of the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion.  In 1878 he created nishiki-e shinbun for the Tokyo newspaper Choya shinbun 朝野新聞.  He moved to Osaka where he worked as an illustrator of novels, including the works of novelist Udagawa Bunkai 1848-1930 with whom he developed a friendship.  He also created illustrations for newspapers and continued to create woodblock prints.  While in Osaka he began drinking heavily which interfered with his work and there was a period around 1880 when he does not seem to have created any work.2  His drinking also led to a fallout with Bunkai which was later restored by the intervention of the novelist Kanagaki Robun (1829-1894.)  In 1885 he moved to Kyoto where he again worked as a newspaper illustrator.

In June 1885 he contracted pneumonia and later meningitis.  He died in Kyoto on September 15, 1885.

Artist's Signatures

Signature from Choya shinbun nishiki-e, 1878

Signature from shogi kiyu no hanashi, 1878


Signature from Famous Courtesans in Meiji, 1878

Signature from this collection's print, 1877

Yamazaki Toshinobu ga with Yama seal
Yamazaki Toshinobu ga 

1 Toshinobu's date of death is given as September 15, 1885 in the above referenced Japanese wiki entry.
2 Yoshitoshi's other student using the Toshinobu (年信) artist name was Shirai Toshinobu 白井 年信 (1866-1903.)  I have seen him refered to as Yamazaki Toshinobu II, further confusing the issue.