The beauty of Japan and its culture is abundant in this curated collection of both vintage and modern Japanese woodblock prints. More than 200 prints, many of which are first editions, will be auctioned in this sale. Take a peek at some of the highlights from this auction.
One of the featured lots in the collection is an early edition (circa 1936-1950s) of Tsuchiya Koitsu’s Lake Motosu, (Mount Fuji Sunset Glow) or (Motosu-ko). This print is in excellent condition.
Tsuchiya Koitsu (1870-1949) produced prints of the Sino-Japanese War early in his career, but later focused on Shin Hanga landscape prints. He was a leading exponent of the Shin Hanga (literally “new prints”) movement, which was an art movement in the early 20th-century Japan that revitalized traditional ukiyo-e art rooted in the Edo and Meiji periods (17th-19th century). It maintained the traditional ukiyo-e collaborative system in which the artist, carver, printed and publisher engaged in the division of labor. Its imagery focused on landscapes, women and nature.
Japan’s beauty extends beyond landmarks. Japanese woodblock printmakers are noted for depicting attractive female subjects. Goyo Hashiguchi (1880-1920) was a Japanese Shin Hanga artist. He was well-known for high quality prints of women with vanity subjects such as bathing, applying makeup and brushing hair. An example is his print titled Applying Powder.
A modern take on the subject is In the Bedroom by Yoshio Okada (born 1934), an artist who specializes in prints of sexy Japanese women. His prints are rare and not well known.
Having the highest estimate in the auction – $3,800-$4,200 – is Hasui Kawase’s Dawn at Daikon Gashi Riverbank (Daikon-gashi no Asa), which is from the artist’s Twenty Views of Tokyo Series. This 1927 print bears the appropriate first edition printing seal and is in very good condition with excellent color. Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) become a prominent figure in the shin hanga movement, which was influenced by European Impressionism. He was honored with the title of a Living National Treasure.
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, aka Taiso Yoshitoshi, (1839-1892) is often considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement of woodblock printing and painting. The term ukiyo-e translates to “pictures of the floating world” and refers to a genre of Japanese art with a wide span of imagery such as kabuki actors, folk tales, landscapes and even erotica. This movement was critical in forming the Western perception of Japanese art. His woodblock print featured in this collection, which depicts a geisha of the Ansei era (1854-1860), is a first edition published in 1888.
Earlier still is The compound of Mount Narita, Shimosa (Soshu) Province by Utagawa Hiroshige II, a first edition print published in 1859. The artist was the most successful apprentice to study under the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement, Hiroshige.