HATSUGATSUO (Takeuchi Keishu)

N.1 kuchi-e woodblock print
Year: 1914
Condition: good
Size: 22 x 30,5 cm



Green leaves for the eyes / a mountain cuckoo / the first bonito (目には青葉 / 山ほととぎす / 初鰹). The lines of a famous haiku (俳句) by the poet Yamaguchi Sodo (山口素堂) summarize the pleasures of spring: just as the new leaves and the cuckoo song are, respectively, a joy for the eyes and ears, so the hatsugatsuo (初鰹) first bonito of the season, which we see here in the basket of a bijin (美人) beauty, becomes a symbol of the flavors of Japanese spring.

The refined original woodblock print of the kuchi-e (口絵) type, entitled “Hatsugatsuo” (初松魚), was made by the artist Takeuchi Keishu (武内桂舟), one of the most talented students of Tsukiyoka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年), and is taken from vol. 20 n. 5 of the literary magazine Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部).

The print on Japanese washi paper (和紙), produced in April 1914 by the Hakubunkan (博文館) publishing house, despite the right signs of aging including slight stains and fold marks in the corners, as well as small holes and tears in the upper margin, is in overall good condition.