Category Archives: Shin-hanga woodblock prints

MAGNOLIA (Kawarazaki Shodo)

Precious shin-hanga (新版画) woodblock print of large vertical format taken from the series “Floral Calendar of Japan” (日本の花こよみ) by the artist Kawarazaki Shodo (河原崎奨堂) and depicting the flowers of a magnolia (木蓮).

Kawarazaki Shodo (1889 – 1973) was a painter and a designer of floral subjects. He has carried out his artistic activity in collaboration with Unsodo (芸艸堂), the historical firm of the city of Kyoto still active today. He made most of his work in the years when there was a strong demand for Japanese prints by the occupation forces of the Allied Powers.

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MAIKO MAKE-UP (Kato Shinmei)

Precious shin-hanga (新版画) woodblock print of large vertical format, re-edition of a work made around 1949 by the artist Kato Shinmei (加藤晨明) and depicting a maiko (舞妓), an apprentice geisha (芸者), dressed with an autumnal kimono intent on putting on make-up while holding a tekagami (手鏡) hand mirror.

Kato Shinmei (1910 – 1988) was born in Nagoya (名古屋) and trained under the guidance of the famous painter and designer Gakuryo Nakamura (中村岳陵). Famous for his portrayals of beautiful women, both in traditional and modern style, he won numerous awards including, in 1948, the one awarded by the Japan Art Academy (日本芸術院), the highest ranking artistic organization in Japan of which he would be later become a judge.

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THE HEROINE KOHARU (Kikuchi Keigetsu)

Fascinating large vertical format woodblock print depicting the courtesan Koharu (小春), the heroine of the play “The Love Suicides at Amijima” (心中天の網島), and made in 1922 by the artist Kikuchi Keigetsu (菊池契月) for the “Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu” (大近松全集付録木版), a series of eighteen prints created to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the death of the famous writer and dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon (近松門左衛門).

The work, enriched with details in silver pigments, was made in collaboration with the engraver Yamagishi Kazue (山岸主計) and the printer Nishimura Kumakichi (西村熊吉) and was produced by the Complete Work of Chikamatsu Publishing Association (大近松全集刊行会).

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In the Taisho period (大正時代) and before the difficult years of the war, the district of Soemoncho (宗右衛門町), in the city of Osaka (大坂), was a crossroads of merchants and sailors arriving by river. There were hundreds of ochaya (お茶屋) tea houses, countless courtesans and as many as 600 geisha (芸者). Spending the evenings at Soemoncho, to then being the subject of romantic rumors, was long considered a real status symbol and a way to become famous.

The woodblock print presented here is a 1989 ca. edition of the work made in April 1933 by Kawase Hasui (川瀬巴水), one of the most famous representatives of the “new prints” shin-hanga (新版画) movement. The work is titled “Evening at Soemoncho in Osaka” (大坂宗右衛門町乃夕), and is taken from the series “Collection of Scenic Views of Japan II, Kansai Edition” (日本風景集二関西篇).

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