Kiyochika, the son of a low-level samurai, worked first as a schoolteacher and then as a member of a touring group of martial arts performers. When he returned to Tokyo in 1874 he studied art, possibly under Kawanabe Kyosai (see lot 148) and the British painter and journalist Charles Wirgman. Kiyochika is best known today for his tenebrous night scenes illuminated by light generated from within the composition in an illusionistic way, but his work in this style had only a short vogue. When his career as a print artist began to wane in the early 1880s, he turned to political and social satire and subsequently worked for a number of comic journals and newspapers for over twenty-five years. He is probably best known for his illustrations in the satirical journal Marumaru chimbun, where he was employed as chief cartoonist for ten years, beginning in 1882. Satirical drawings are called ponchi-e in Japanese, a name derived from the Japan Punch, modeled on the original English Punch, and founded by Wirgman in Yokohama in 1862.