THE FISHERMAN OF KAJIKAZAWA (Katsushika Hokusai)

Located near the source of the Fuji River (富士川), Kajikawaza (石班沢) is a confluence of mountain streams. The woodblock print, one of the masterpieces in which Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) is able to portray both the beauty and the severity of nature with mastery, shows two streams flowing violently into each other and a fisherman who, on a rock, throws his net. Next to the man sits, patiently, his little son. Mount Fuji (富士山) stands out in the background, partially hidden by the morning mist.

The work, printed for the first time around 1831 by the publisher Nishimuraya Yohachi (西村屋与八), owner of Eijudo (永寿堂), is taken from the famous series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” (富嶽三十六景) and is titled “Kajikazawa in Kai Province” (甲州石班沢).

View lot details →

PLUM GARDEN AT KAMEIDO (Utagawa Hiroshige)

The “Plum Garden at Kameido” (亀戸梅屋舗), one of the most iconic images from the series “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo” (名所江戸百景) by the artist Utagawa Hiroshige (歌川広重), fascinated so much the Western audience that, as is well known, even Van Gogh painted a copy of it. The park depicted in the print belonged to the sanctuary Kameido Tenjinsha (亀戸天神社) and the tree in the foreground was famous for its bizarre shape. Known as Garyuume (臥龍梅), the “Sleeping Dragon Plum Tree”, it was mentioned in every Edo guide book.

In the “List of famous places in Edo” it was described as follows: «It truly resembles a dragon laying on the ground. The branches intertwined seem to transform into a new trunk. The tree spreads to the left and right. The fragrance of its flowers eclipses that of the orchids, the vibrant white hue of the flowers, pressed tight against each other, ravishes the night».

View lot details →

KIRIFURI WATERFALL AT KUROKAMI MOUNTAIN (Katsushika Hokusai)

The Kirifuri waterfall (霧降の滝) is located a few kilometers northeast of the temple complex of Nikko (日光). The water falls from a height of 75 meters and, crashing on the rocks, forms a mist from which originates the name “Kirifuri”, which means precisely: the falling (降) mist (霧). In this wonderful woodblock print, we can admire this waterfall in the interpretation of the famous artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) who, with a wise use of colors and with the skillful insertion of five travelers entranced by the contemplation of such a great beauty, masterfully evokes the sense of the sacredness of the nature that is inherent in Japanese spirituality.

The work, printed for the first time around 1832 by the publisher Nishimuraya Yohachi (西村屋与八), owner of Eijudo (永寿堂), is taken from the famous series “A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces” (諸国滝廻り) and is titled “Kirifuri Waterfall at Kurokami Mountain in Shimotsuke Province” (下野黒髪山きりふりの滝).

View lot details →

IRIS (Suzuki Kason)

Elegant kuchi-e (口絵) frontispiece, made in 1907 by the artist Suzuki Kason (鈴木華邨) and entitled “Iris” (あやめ). The work, depicting a bijin (美人) beauty in the wonderful setting of a field of iris flowers in the month of May, is taken from vol. 13 n. 7 of the famous literary magazine Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部).

Suzuki Kason (1860 – 1919), although known to collectors mainly for his xylographic frontispieces, indeed rather rare to find, was above all a prolific painter of traditional style, as well as a member of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts (帝国美術院).

View lot details →

FINE BAMBOO BLINDS (Mizuno Toshikata)

Beautiful kuchi-e (口絵) woodblock print made in 1906 by the artist Mizuno Toshikata (水野年方) as a frontispiece of the novel “Iyosudare” (伊予簾), or the fine bamboo blinds of Iyo, published in vol. 12 n. 11 of the famous literary magazine Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部). In the foreground, a young woman with hair and clothes ruffled by the breath of a pleasant summer breeze.

Mizuno Toshikata (1866 – 1908), a pupil of Tsukiyoka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年), was a traditional genre painter much appreciated by his contemporaries. Active especially in the production of front pages for novels, as well as woodcuts depicting historical subjects and beautiful women, he gathered around him and formed young talents such as Kiyokata Kaburagi (鏑木清方). Member of the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai (日本美術協会), in 1906 he participated to the Universal Exposition in Paris.

View lot details →

SOUTH WIND, CLEAR SKY (Katsushika Hokusai)

In early autumn, when the wind is southerly and the sky is clear, the rising sun can turn Mount Fuji red. In this famous woodblock print, also known as “Red Fuji” (赤富士), the artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) captures this moment giving to the observer “one of the simplest and at the same time one of the most outstanding of all Japanese prints” (Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai, 2003 Phaidon, p. 471).

The work, printed for the first time around 1831 by the publisher Nishimuraya Yohachi (西村屋与八), owner of Eijudo (永寿堂), is taken from the famous series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” (富嶽三十六景) and is titled “South Wind, Clear Sky” (凱風快晴).

View lot details →

JAPAN (Keisen)

The word “Wa” is the oldest name of Japan recorded by historical documents. The Chinese, Korean and Japanese writers, until the eighth century, regularly wrote Wa or Yamato with the Chinese character 倭. This character, however, had been conceived by the Chinese with a negative connotation: it indicated the Japanese as the people of “bent men”, that is, submissive, docile, obedient. Around 757 AD the Japanese scholars therefore decided to replace the Chinese logogram 倭 with the current 和.

According to some researchers, the origin of the ideogram 和 can be traced back to two kanji: 禾 and 口, that is the entrance of a military camp and the casket in which the peace agreements were placed. Literally then it presents the act of entering into an agreement on a battlefield but, in the broadest sense that is still used, it simply means “harmony”, “peace”.

View lot details →

THE AUTUMN DUSK (Utagawa Kunisada)

Feeling lonely / I step out of my abode / and gaze: / everywhere is the same, / the autumn dusk (さびしさに 宿を立出て ながむれば いづこもおなじ 秋の夕ぐれ). In the upper part of this precious original woodblock print by the artist Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) we read the famous verses composed in the eleventh century by the poet Ryozen Hoshi (良暹法師). In the lower part of the work, the warrior Ishidome Busuke (石留武助) and his sister Ohana (妹於花), two of the protagonists of Igagoe revenge (伊賀越えの仇討ち).

The print, made around 1845 by the publisher Ibaya Senzaburo (伊場屋仙三郎) owner of Dansendo (団仙堂), is taken from “Imitations of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu” (小倉擬百人一首), a series inspired by the collection of waka (和歌) poetic compositions “One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets” compiled by Fujiwara no Teika (藤原定家).

View lot details →

PERSIMMON SELLER (Takeuchi Keishu)

Refined original woodblock print of the kuchi-e (口絵) type, made in 1906 by the artist Takeuchi Keishu (武内桂舟), one of the most talented students of the famous Tsukiyoka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年), and entitled “Persimmon Seller” (杮売).

The work is taken from Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部), the popular literary magazine published from 1895 to 1933 by the Hakubunkan (博文館) publishing house.

View lot details →

SILHOUETTE OF NIGHTINGALE (Suzuki Kason)

Fine kuchi-e (口絵) frontispiece, made in 1909 by the artist Suzuki Kason (鈴木華邨) for the novel “Silhouette of Nightingale” (鳥かげ). The work is taken from vol. 15 n. 3 of the famous literary magazine Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部), published by Hakubunkan (博文館).

Suzuki Kason (1860 – 1919), although known to collectors mainly for his xylographic frontispieces, indeed rather rare to find, was above all a prolific painter of traditional style, as well as a member of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts (帝国美術院).

View lot details →