Hishikawa Moronobu, whose birth date is unknown, was the son of a textile designer who, after moving to Edo (modern Tokyo), studied both courtly (Tosa) and Chinese-style (Kano) painting before embarking on a career in woodblock print design. Because of the beauty of his compositions, Hishikawa is often credited with raising the level of woodblock prints from inexpensive ephemera to an art form worthy of preservation by savvy patrons. While a few single-sheet prints survive, the majority of his output took the form of books. Occupations of Japan (Wakoku shoshoku ezukushi: shoshoku ehon kagami), published in three volumes, was just one of at least one thousand books associated with Hishikawa, who, along with fellow artists, writers, publishers, and book dealers, strove to keep up with a literate public’s eagerness for new books.
Japanese, d. 1694
Wheelwright, from the book Occupations of Japan
Ink on paper
10 ¼ x 6 7/16 in. (26.1 x 16.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 75.96.44