6 Highlights from This Marquee Japanese Woodblock Print Auction

More than 200 works are being presented in this week’s Japanese woodblock prints auction ending on Sunday, January 29th. Featuring names like Kiyonaga, Kawase, and Sekino, the collection in this sale reveals nuanced techniques and traditional Japanese values. The works range in their imagery, capturing the scenes of serenity at a temple and the elegance of fashionable women, and all of them exemplify both fine art and exquisite decoration.

Among the oldest prints in the auction is Month of Chrysanthemums by Torii Kiyonaga, printed in 1975. Born Sekiguchi Shinsuke in 1752, he took on Torii Kiyonaga as an art name. Kiyonaga was a ukiyo-e artist of the Torii school. Ukiyo-e artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, scenes from history and folk tales, travel scenes, landscapes, flora and fauna, and erotica.

Torii Kiyonaga, ‘Month of the Chrysanthemums,’ 1795, published by Eijudo, signature: Kiyonaga ga. Estimate: $3,200-$4,000. Jasper52 image


Among the modern works in this collection is Joichi Hoshi’s Field, printed in 1974 on gold leaf. His prints are now part of collections such as the Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and the Chicago Art Institute.

Joichi Hoshi, ‘Field,’ 1974, edition: 63/99, print on gold leaf. Estimate: $4,000-$4,500. Jasper52 image


Junichiro Sekino (1914-1988) was a Japanese printmaker and a leading promoter of sosaku hanga, an important Japanese art movement that revitalized traditional ukiyo-e art rooted in the Edo and Meiji periods. He is represented in the auction with a large print titled Puppet Master or Bungoro on Stage, 3/25.

Junichiro Sekino, ‘Puppet Master’ or ‘Bungoro on Stage 3/25,’ 1953. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image


Hasui Kawase (1883-1957) was a Japanese artist and printmaker who became a prominent figure in the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement of the early 20th century. This movement was influenced by European Impressionism and its imagery focused on landscapes, women, and nature. Two of his works are standouts in this auction. The earlier woodblock print is Shiba Zojo Temple in Snow, which was published by Watanabe in 1925.

Hasui Kawase, ‘Shiba Zojo Temple in Snow,’ 1925, published by Watanabe. Estimate: $6,000-$7,000. Jasper52 image


The latter was Evening Snow at Ishonomaki, 1935, also published by Watanabe.

Hasui Kawase, ‘Evening Snow at Ishonomaki,’ 1935, published by Watanabe (early state impression). Estimate: $2,800-$3,200. Jasper52 image


One of the few Western artists to master Japanese woodblock printing and be recognized in that country was Paul Jacoulet (1902-1960). A fine example of his work presented in this auction is titled Apres La Danse, Celebes (After the Dance, Celebes), done in 1940.

Paul Jacoulet, ‘Apres La Danse, Celebes’ (After the Dance, Celebes), 1940, signed Paul Jacoulet with Butterfly seal, carver: Maeda. Estimate: $2,000-$2,300. Jasper52 image


View the full catalog of Japanese woodblock prints and register to bid on Jasper52.