Chikanobu Toyohara is an important Meiji artist. His prints are quite popular among collectors. Until 2006 there was no Chikanobu biography to be found and the little information available about his life was limited. In 2006 Bruce A. Coats, Professor of Art History and the Humanities at Scripps College, and others wrote a book titled "Chikanobu - Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints" about this important printmaker.
Chikanobu was a student of Toyohara Kunichika (He has the same name but is different from the Kunichika Toyohara (1835-1900) that you know.) His original name was Hashimoto. He took both the last name and the second part chika of his master's first name - following an old tradition of the way an artist's name was inherited from master to student.
He signed his prints usually with Yoshu Chikanobu or Yoshu Chikanobu hitsu.
Favorite subjects of Chikanobu were historical and mythological legends and histories from Japan's past and genre scenes with women and children. The percentage of triptychs among the prints created by the artist is maybe higher than for any other artist of the Meiji period.
His best known series are triptychs showing court life in and around the Chiyoda Palace. Like Chikanobu's contemporary, Yoshitoshi, his print themes concentrate on the history and traditional values of old Japan. These series must be seen against the background of an era when Japan was striving to adopt Western technology and civilization without any criticism. The Japanese society then regarded their own traditional and culture as something of low value that had to be replaced by Western values as fast as possible.
Here is an incomplete list of some of Chikanobu print series.
These series are mostly in the low price range starting at US$100-200. The later series, mainly his triptychs, are often very interesting in design and more appealing to the Western eyes. They can sometimes become quite expensive.
"Chikanobu - Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints", Author: Professor Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, Leiden, ISBN 9074822886.
Author: Dieter Wanczura