Chikanobu was a student of Toyoharu Kunichika and his original name was Hashimoto. He took both the last name and the second name part of
“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 or Toyoharu Chikanobu.
Favorite subjects of Chikanobu were historical and mythological legends and histories from Japan’s past and also genre scenes with women and children. The percentage of triptychs among the prints created by the artist is higher than by any other artist of the Meiji Period.
His best known series are triptychs showing court life in and around 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 a background of an era when Japan was thriving to adopt Western technology and civilization.
A partial list of some of the Toyoharu Chikanobu print series:
“Shin Bijin”—True Beauty
“Bijin Awase”—Beautiful Women
“Jidai Kagami”—Mirror of the Ages
“Meisho Bijin Awase”—Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety Parodied
“Gento Shashin Kurabe”—Magic Lantern
“Chiyoda no O-oku”—Noble ladies from the Chiyoda Palace series
“Onko Azuma no hana”—Changes in the customs of Edo
“Chiyoda no on-omote mokuroku”—Chronicle of the events surrounding the Chiyoda Palace
“Azuma Nishiki Chuya Kurabe”—Edo Embroidery Pictures, comparison of day and night.