Artist: Gigadō Ashiyuki (戯画堂芦ゆき)

Alternate names:
Ashigadō (go - 芦画堂)
Nagakuni (go - 長国: used between 1814-21)

Related links:


Roger Keyes wrote in The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints on page 207:

Ashiyuki has been unfairly neglected as an Osaka print designer. He does not seem to have been nearly as popular nor as highly regarded as Hokushū or Shigeharu, although his name appears second, between Hokushū and Kunihiro, on a broadside list of print artists that appeared around 1831... Since he could not always command the services of the best engravers (Kasuke, for example, engraved few of his prints), his work is uneven and his portraits are slightly mannered. But at his best, he designed some of the masterpieces of the Osaka school and, in a quiet way, anticipated most advances of the Osaka style. He was the first person to make much use of the horizontal format; the first to exploit the contrast between the broad, painterly style of the contemporary Shijō surimono and book illustrations that were appearing at the time with the precise and brilliant actor-print style. He was the first in Osaka to employ gofun on his prints to create an effect of snow, the first to exploit the use of color blocks without outlines and may have been, in fact, the first person to use the small-figure surimono style.


Dean Schwab in his book Osaka Prints stresses the importance of Ashiyuki in the history of that genre. After 1810 several important artists appeared on the market in Osaka at about the same time. The two who stood out the most were Hokushū and Ashiyuki (aka Nagakuni) and who each in time was the center of their own circle. Both artists produced their first ōban prints in 1813. Almost concurrent with these artists was the appearance of three major publishers. This was a confluence which is referred to as the second period which lasted until 1828.

Ashiyuki's first known print appeared in 1813 and was signed 'Nagakuni'. A year later he was signing 'Ashiyuki'. He was an aritst who worked in the circle of Ashikuni. However, his work was stronger than others in that group. "In 1817 he collaborated with Yoshikuni on a triptych. When, in late 1817, Yoshikuni adopted the forename Jukōdō, in honor of his teacher Kyōgadō Ashikuni, Ashiyuki followed suit, adopting the name Gigadō Ashiyuki in 1818. It is from 1818 on that Ashiyuki's career departs from the expected route."

There were a couple of years starting in late 1819 in which Ashiyuki produced few if any prints. Then in late 1821 he produced "...three compositions relating to the last performance and death of Arashi Kitsusaburō I.... The only composition listed for 1822 is a study of Arashi Kitsusaburō II, an actor who would figure increasingly in Ashiyuki's works as the decade progressed. It is likely that works will eventually be found filling in a few of these gaps, but it is clear that for some reason Ashiyuki remained relatively inactive from 1819 to 1823, when the second phase of his career really began. It may well be that the very productivity of Hokushū and Yoshikuni during this interval left no room for another artist. Certainly the date of Ashiyuki's recovery corresponds with the decline in production for Hokushū and the hiatus in print production for Yoshikuni."

In 1823 and 1824 Ashiyuki did some collaborative works with Yoshikuni, Kunihiro and Tamikuni. "In 1823 Ashiyuki also introduced a red seal in the form of a stylized hiragana yu... patterned after the yo seal introduced by Yoshikuni in 1822 and mimicked by his circle. In the following year he introduced his most common seal, a split oval with what appears to be a stylized ashi above and yuki below, which would remain in use through 1827...

It was actually between 1825 and 1830 that Ashiyuki turned out a large part of the hundred compositions belonging to his second phase. From about 1825 the artist began to work in a sharp, clear style. Many of these first designs are fairly indifferent; his designs improved over 1827-8... very late by second-period standards."