Kanbun Master

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A Kanbun bijin by the Kanbun Master, on display at the Metropolitan Museum
  • Active: c. 1660-1674
  • Japanese: 寛文絵師 (Kanbun eshi)

The Kanbun Master was one of the earliest pioneers in the woodblock print art style which would later come to be known as ukiyo-e. Nothing is known about his personal life, birth and death dates, or even his name; scholars have thus come to call him simply "the Kanbun Master", after the imperial era of Kanbun during which most of his works were produced.[1]

The Kanbun Master produced chiefly book illustrations for sex manuals and courtesan critiques, his style exerting a profound influence on Hishikawa Moronobu, sometimes called the "father of ukiyo-e", who was chiefly active a decade later.


  • Lane, Richard. Images from the Floating World. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1978. pp38-41.
  1. This sobriquet for the artist was coined by art collector & dealer Richard Lane.
    "Caught in the Act." Honolulu Museum of Art online collections database.