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Shōsai Ikkei (fl. c. 1870s)

Biographical Data


Shōsai Ikkei 昇斎 一景(fl. c. 1870s)

Sources: A Dictionary of Japanese Artists: Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Prints, Lacquer, Laurance P. Roberts, Weatherhill, 1976, p. 52; The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing Company, 2005, p. 504; Wikipedia Japan http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%98%87%E6%96%8E%E4%B8%80%E6%99%AF

Little is known about this artist's life.  He was a student of Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) and was active between 1860 and the late 1870s. He produced meisho-e of a radically changing Tokyo and comic scenes (giga) of Edo Life in the early Meiji Era, such as Comic Scenes of Thirty-six Famous Places in Tokyo (Tōkyō meisho sanjūroku gisen, 1871-1872). His most famous work was the series Forty-Eight Famous Views of Tokyo (Tōkyō meisho shijūhakkei, 1871), an example of which is shown below.

Jonathan Solomon, in his article titled "Bridging Edo and Meiji, Shōsai Ikkei's Comic Views of Early Tokyo"1 states:
By the calculations of Hatakeyama Yutaka, a curator at the Machida City Museum in surburban Tokyo where he organized in 1992 the only exhibition ever held on the the art of Shōsai Ikkei, the artist left a total known oeuvre of 132 prints (of which 24, or one fourth, were triptychs) plus six picture-books, all in color woodblock.

Solomon goes on to provide us with he calls "the sole scrap of biographical data" on the artist from Sansantei Yūjin (identity unknown) who wrote a brief text on Ikkei appearing in the table of contents of his series Forty-Eight Famous Views of Tokyo, to wit:
From this..., we learn only that Ikkei took a liking to the work of Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795), founder of the Shijō School, and hence traveled to Kyoto to study.  He applied himself with diligence, but then decided to retire from the world.  Only later - presumably now in Tokyo after the Restoration - did he respond to the entreaties of publishers and begin to produce numerous works.

Solomon also speculates on "the remote possibility" that Ikkei may have been one and the same with the artist Utagawa Hirokage 歌川広景.

Art names ("") include Ikkei 一景, Isshōsai 昇斎 , and Shōsai 昇斎

Forty-Eight Famous Views of Tokyo: Shibakuchibashi Bridge
東京名所四十八景 芝口はし, 1871

Signatures and Seals (A Few Examples)

Shōsai Ikkei hitsu / unread seal

ōju Shōsai Ikkei hitsu / unread seal
應需 昇斎一景
Shōsai Ikkei hitsu

Shōsai Ikkei

Shōsai hitsu 

Shōsai Ikkei giga 

1 "Bridging Edo and Meiji, Shōsai Ikkei's Comic Views of Early Tokyo" appearing in Impressions: The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of American, Inc., Number 21, 1999, p. 43-53.

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