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VJP title
Utamaro print showing


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Hasegawa Sadanobu I (1809-1879)


SadanobuHasegawa Sadanobu I (長谷川貞信 1809-1879) was active from 1834 to 1879. We know that his addresses in Osaka included Andôjimachi Naniwabachisuji and Horie Ichinogawa. His personal names were Naraya Bunkichi and Naraya Tokubei. He also sang jôruri under the name Rankô.

Sadanobu first studied with the Shijô painter Ueda Kôchô (act. c. early-mid 19th C.), and possibly later with the Edo master Utagawa Kunisada. In Osaka it appears that he also trained with Ryûsai Shigeharu and Gochôtei Sadamasu [later Kunimasu]. He was adopted briefly by the publisher Tenmaya Kihei (when he took the personal name Senzô), and was also closely linked with Hirosada, although apparently not as a pupil.

Sadanobu had pupils of his own, including Sadamasa (around 1838; act. c. 1834-1838), Sadaharu (around 1837; act. c. late 1830s-1840), and Nobuhiro (act. late 1830s-1840), as well as his son Konobu I (later Sadanobu II) and younger son Konobu II (died before he could produce many prints or take the Sadanobu name).

Sadanobu I was a prolific artist, at least by the standards of the Osaka publishing industry (i.e., much smaller than the Edo-based Utagawa juggernaut). Beginning c. 1834, he designed around 200 yakusha-e (actor prints), some counted among the better examples of the period. His bijinga (pictures of beautiful women) include nerimono-e (1836-37; see text below) and some chûban in the Edo Utagawa style, including the series Naniwa jiman meibutsu zukushi (Collection of celebrated specialties from Osaka). His book illustrations include Yoshikono gyokuyôshû (A book of popular songs, 1852).

Among the very few bijinga designed by any artist in Osaka are the nerimono-e or pictures of the annual costume parades in Kamigata (邌物絵). For example, across the canal north of Osaka’s Dôtonbori theater district was an area called Shimanouchi, the city’s largest unofficial pleasure quarter. Shimanouchi hosted a parade early each summer featuring waitresses, geisha, and courtesans dressed in elaborate costumes and portraying, in skits or pantomimes, figures from contemporary society, theater, history, and legend. The women were sometimes accompanied by decorative floats carrying musicians and dancers.

The deluxe print shown at the upper right depicts Kinuha of the Kyôki-ya (京喜屋 きぬ葉) dressed in the feathered robe in Hagoromo (羽衣) while holding a sheng (Jp., shô: 笙) or mouth organ. It is a design from the series Shimanouchi nerimono (Costume parade in Shinmanouchi: 島之内ねりもの) published in 6/1836. The inscription to the left of the title cartouche reads Yamamura Goto konomi (Yamamura Goto's taste), designating the costume designer and choreographer Yamamura Giemon, born 1781, who also acted as Yamamura Tomogorô I, then as Yamamura Goto I beginning in 1830.

In the Nô play Hagoromo (Feather-mantle), a fisherman named Hakuryô finds a feathered robe hanging on a pine tree at Miho no Matsubara, Suruga Bay, near Mt. Fuji . A celestial maiden appears, informing him that the hagoromo is hers and asks for its return. He resists until she promises to teach him her dance (treated in the play as the origin of the dance called Suruga-mai), one of six pieces in the Azuma asobi (East Country Songs). The maiden performs her dance and then she and the robe float windborne above the shore and pine woods of Mio, up beyond Mt. Fuji, mingling with mists until they fade into the heavens.


Besides some rare kachô‑e (nature, or bird and flower prints), Sadanobu also produced a large number of fûkeiga (landscapes), including chûban copies downsized from original ôban nishiki-e by Utagawa Hiroshige. Sadanobu also produced his own original Hiroshige-style designs, such as the chûban nishiki yoko-e series Naniwa hyakkei no uchi (From the 100 Views of Osaka, c. late 1850s) or the series Miyako meisho no uchi (Famous places in the capital: 都名所之内) from 1870-1871 published by Wataya Kihei (大坂綿屋喜兵衛梓). The image above from the Miyako meisho series is titled Kôdai-ji aki no kei (Autumn scene at Kôdai Temple: 高台寺秋之景). It is a design original to Sadanobu, but the influence of both Utagawa Hiroshige I and Utagawa Hiroshige II is clearly evident in the idiomatic visual language, including strolling figures seen from a distance, trees partly interrupting views of the main structures, seasonal foliage and its particular style of coloration, a vibrant pink horizon line, and a gradated blue sky.

Sadanobu and Konobu artist names (geimei)

Beginning with Sadanobu II, artists of the Hasegawa lineage all began their careers with the geimei Konobu. The lineage has been entirely hereditary through direct descent within the same family (i.e., no adoptions or conferring of Konobu or Sadanobu geimei upon non-family members).

Sadanobu I 1809-1879 Active 1809-1879 (did not use the Konobu name)
Sadanobu II 1848-1940 Son of Sadanobu I, started as Konobu I (1867-1879), worked in father's style
Konobu II died 1886 Konobu II, younger brother of Konobu I, designed few works and died at age 20, never taking the Sadanobu geimei
Sadanobu III 1881-1963 Son of Sadanobu II, began as Konobu III, principally in the shin hanga manner
Sadanobu IV 1914-1999 Son of Sadanobu III, started as Konobu IV, continuing in the shin hanga-style
Sadanobu V born 1946 Daughter of Sadanobu IV, worked as Konobu V until she ascended to the Sadanobu geimei

© 2017 by John Fiorillo


  • Matsudaira, Susumu: Shôdai Hasegawa Sadanobu hanga sakuhin ichiran (Catalog of the printed works of Hasegawa Sadanobu I), 1997.
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