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Publisher: Murataya Jirōbei (村田屋治郎兵衛)

Alternate names:
Eiyūdō (firm name - 栄邑堂)
Murata (seal name - 村田)

Lifetime: circa 1659 - 1844

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Biography:

Edo print publisher (Marks 359). Marks gives two dates for this publisher. One is ca. 1659-1844 and the other is ca. 1725-1844. He explains it this way: "Overlapping dates indicate that a publisher simultaneously operated at more than one location, a few even in other cities."

Artists who worked with this house include Baishō, Bunchō, Chikanobu, Chōki, Eishō, Fusanobu, Hagawa Wagen, Hiroshige, Hokuba, Hokusai, Ikku, Kikumaro, Kiyomasu II, Kiyomitsu, Kiyonobu I, Kiyonobu II, Kiyotsune, Kunimasa, Kuniyasu, Kuniyoshi, Kyosen, Masayoshi, Tamura Sadanobu, Shigemasa, Shigenaga, Hirose Shigenobu, Shunchō, Shun'ei, Shunkō, Shunshō, Shuntei, Toyokuni I, Toyonobu, Tsukimaro, Utamaro, Utamaro II and Wagen. [We have highlighted in bold artists published by this house which are in now in the Lyon Collection.]

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"At first, Murataya Jirōbei was a publisher of books. Since the 1720s he [sic] was active in producing actor prints and prints of beautiful women. He commissioned popular, well-known artists like Bunchō, Kiyomasu II, Kiyonobu I, and Nishimura Shigenobu (act. 1723-47), as well as minor artists like Tamura Sadanobu and Hagawa Wagen (act. c. 1720s).

From time to time Murataya put rare motifs on the market like a "nehan zu" or Nirvana painting by Shigenobu from the 1740s, depicting the death of the historical Buddha.

In the 1770s and 1780s, Murataya mostly worked with Katsukawa school artists like Shunkō and Shunshō. In the second half of the 1790s, Murataya issued a few large-head actor portraits by Kunimasa and Toyokuni, and in the 1800s followed pillar prints (hashirae) by various artists, especially Utamaro.

From the 1790s, Murataya also produced books. In the book Atariyashita jihon toiya that he published in 1802 is an illustration of Murataya's shop by Jippensha Ikku. From around the same time dates Utamaro's series "Three Laughters at Children's Playful Spirits" (Kokei no sanshō).

In 1807, he is listed as a member of the Picture Book and Print Publishers Guild (Jihon toiya) and the Book Publishers Guild (Shomotsu toiya). The versatile Murataya concentrated now on books with illustrations by Hokusai, Hokuba and Shuntei.

In the 1810s he mainly produced unserialized actor prints by Toyokuni. In 1811 and 1812 he acted as a censor of prints.

It is not clear if Murataya Jirōbei's business came to an end in the early 1820s as he suddenly disappeared from the scene. In the first half of the 1840s however there appears a small number of series by Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi that bear a "Murata" publisher seal. Most importantly is the last of these series by Kuniyoshi, "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji Seen from the Eastern Capital" (Toto Fujimi sanjūrokkei) of which only six different designs were produced."

Quoted from: Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900 by Andreas Marks, p. 188.