Osaka artists occasionally looked toward Edo for inspiration when designing fûkeiga (landscape prints: 風景画). For those works, Sadanobu typically took his cues from the Edo master Utagawa Hiroshige, in series such as Meisho Edo hyakkei (One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: 名所江戸百景). Sometimes Osaka artists copied Hiroshige's meisho in reduced formats for distribution in Osaka and Kyoto (Kamigata); at other times, they produced original designs in the style of Hiroshige, but with a distinctive Kamigata flavor.
Less common are copies after Edo bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women: 美人画) by Osaka artists, which also fell under the ubiquitous Utagawa influence, whether in same-size copies or reduced formats.
Sadanobu's print is a close copy of a design with the same print and series titles circa 1847-52 by the Edo master Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III). The primary differences are found in the distant background, where a lumberyard and a house in Kunisada's ôban print have been replaced by two houses in the middle distance. Sadanobu has also zoomed in on the stone lantern in the garden behind the bijin, repositioning it to the right behind her left hand. Her stylized "physiognomy" is virtually indistinguishable from the standard Utagawa manner of rendering the faces of bijin. Both the Sadanobu and Kunisada versions include a blue and white tenugui (cotton towel: 手ぬぐい) with kômori (bats: 蝙蝠), symbols for good luck.
The genre of bijin-ga is very uncommon in kamigata-e. We know of three other designs from this series of five — one (for the color blue 青) is in a private collection, and two are in a Japanese museum (for the colors white 白 and red 赤).*
We are pleased to offer this extremely rare ôban print in such good condition.
References: * Ukiyo-e hanga, Kubosô Memorial Museum of Art, Izumi, 2004, pp. 52 and 312, nos. 38-75 and 38-76