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Menagerie of Japanese netsuke parade in online auction Oct. 31

Netsuke are Japanese miniature sculptures originally used as toggles on the end of a cord that held a money pouch or inro. Evolving over time from their utilitarian purpose, netsuke have become an expressive art form in itself and a coveted collectible in the Asian community. Jasper52 will present an auction of premium netsuke on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Boxwood netsuke of a leaping wild boar, signed ‘Shuzan,’ 19th century, 2 1/8 inches long. Estimate: $5,500-$7,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Beauty Abounds in Japanese Woodblock Prints

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, ‘Lake Motosu’ (Mount Fuji Sunset Glow) (Motosu-ko), March 1934 (early edition, circa 1936-1950s), published by Doi Hangaten, 9 ½ in. x 14 3/8 in. Estimate: $1,800-$2,400. Jasper52 image

 

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.

Goyo Hashiguchi, ‘Applying Powder,’ 1920, this family authorized auto-zuri edition published by Tanseisha, 15.5 in. x 21.75 in. Estimate: $3,800-$4,200. Jasper52 image

 

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.

Yoshio Okada, ‘In the Bedroom,’ 1974, published by the artist. Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

 

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.

Hasui Kawase, ‘Dawn at Daikon Gashi Riverbank’ (‘Daikon-gashi no Asa’), 1927, ‘first edition’ printing, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 9 ½ in. x 14 ¼ in. Estimate: $3,800-$4,200. Jasper52 image

 

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.

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, ‘Looking as if she wants a drink: the appearance of a town geisha of the Ansei era (1854-60),’ published by Tsunashima Kamekichi, 1888 first edition, oban (14.5 in. x 10 in.). Estimate: $3,000-$3,500. Jasper52 image

 

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.

Utagawa Hiroshige II, ‘The compound of Mount Narita, Shimosa (Soshu) Province,’ published by Uo-ya Heikichi, 5/1859 (this impression), oban tate-e (14 in. x 9.5 in.). Estimate: $2,000-$2,500. Jasper52 image

A Double Exposure to Japanese Woodblock Prints

Art lovers will enjoy this double dose of beautiful Japanese images in this week’s Exclusive Japanese Woodblock Prints auction, presented in two sessions. The opening session consists of 58 premium-quality Japanese woodblock prints, both vintage originals and contemporary productions; while the following sale features excellent prints at a more affordable price point.

The auction opens with a View of Miho Bay by the renowned Ando Hiroshige in the form of a fan. The impression is from the original first edition created in 1845-46. Ando Hiroshige was a ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that great master of the genre of Japanese art, which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. He is famous for his landscapes.

Ando Hiroshige, ‘View of Miho Bay,’ original 1845-46 edition, rare fan print. Estimate: $1,300-$1,400. 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. His Dusk at Ushibori is an excellent example. This first edition, numbered 189/300, was published in 1930 by Sakai & Kawaguchi.

Kawase Hasui, ‘Dusk at Ushibori,’ Sakai & Kawaguchi, 1930 (first, limited edition, 189/300), oban tate-e (approx. 15 x 10 in.). Estimate: $4,200-$4,500. Jasper52 image

 

Takehisa Yumeiji became famous for his paintings, prints and books expressing the particular feeling of the Taisho democracy (1912-1926) and Taisho romanticism. Next to classical depictions of young women wearing kimonos, his subjects are also depicted as a type of “modern” girl (moga) dressed in western clothes. The influence of the Art Deco style, which found its way to Japan in 1920s, is also noticeable in Yumeiji’s work. Due to the artist’s death at the age of 49, much of his work was published posthumously, as is the case of the print in this collection. Kuroi neko (Black cat) is a limited edition numbered 69/150, which was published by Kato Junki in the 1950s.

Takehisa Yumeiji, ‘Black cat (‘kuroi neko’), Kato Junji, limited edition, 69/150, 1950s, dai oban (approx. 17 x 12 inches). Estimate: $1,900-$2,000. Jasper52 image

 

Contemporary examples of Japanese woodblock prints in the auction include a limited-edition work by Daniel Kelly, an American based in Kyoto, Japan. His pencil-signed and dated 2009 print Camellia is numbered 69/90.

Daniel Kelly (American, b. 1947), ‘Camellia,’ limited edition, 66/90, pencil signed and dated 2009, 40 1/2 x 37 in. Estimate: $3,200-$3,500. Jasper52 image

 

The second session features excellent-quality Japanese woodblock prints at attractive price points. A standout in the second collection is Katsuhira Tokushi’s woodblock print titled Kamado (Cooking Stove), which depicts the interior of a Japanese dwelling. This 1939 print from Tokushi’s Customs of Akita series was self-published by the artist.

Katsuhira Tokushi, ‘Kamado’ (Cooking Stove), Customs of Akita series, 1939, self-published by the artist. Size: Oban. approximately 16 x 11 1/2 in. Estimate: $900-$1,000. Jasper52 image

 

Ikeda Eisen (1970-1848) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist who specialized in bijn-ga (pictures of beautiful women). His woodblock print titled Geisha of the Eastern Capital is a prime example. It is from the original edition done in 1825 by Sano-ki and comes from the Huguette Berés collection, Paris.

Ikeda Eisen, ‘Geisha of the Eastern Capital,’ Sano-ki. Size: oban (approx. 15 x 10 inches), from the original edition of circa 1825. Estimate: $4,000-$4,500. Jasper52 image

 

Take a look at the fully illustrated catalogs and enjoy the two auctions.

200 Years of Japanese Prints

Travel in time through 200 years of Japanese history and culture. This week’s Japanese woodblock prints auction presents a curated collection of 50 prints, which explore how printmakers of the past impacted the development of modern art. Prints in this catalog range from Nishijima Katsuyuki’s Boat on Shore, a signed and numbered first edition from 1990, to the iconic Great Wave off Kanagawa, created by Katsuhika Hokusai in the 1820s.

Nishijima Katsuyuki, ‘Boats on Shore,’ 21 x 14 3/4 inches, 1990, first edition, signed and numbered 116/500. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

 

The Great Wave print was purchased at the National Museum of Tokyo about 25 years ago. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the internationally recognized The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Hokusai Katsushika, ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa,’ 15 1/2 in. x 10 1/2 in. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

Katsuyuki Nishijima (born 1945) is known for his woodblock prints that maintain the tradition and spirit of the ukiyo-e printmakers, while adding his own touch of modern simplicity. His prints show a romantic image of Japan.

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. This movement was critical in forming the Western perception of Japanese art.

Another first edition in the auction is Silhouette of a Woman with Umbrella by Kamatsu Shiro (1898-1991), a Japanese artist who found success early in his career. Shozaburo Watanabe first saw his work in 1919 and published more than 50 of his prints by the late 1940s. Shiro was a part of the shin-hanga movement, which was created from the late Meiji era until World War II, showing a mixture of traditional Japanese and modern western elements.

Kasamatsu Shiro, ‘Silhouette of a Woman with Umbrella,’ first edition Japanese woodblock print, 5 in. x 10.3 in. Estimate: $200-$250. Jasper52 image

 

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) is considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement. His Lingering Snow at Asukayama is a Showa era (1926-1898) print published by Adachi from re-carved woodblocks. His approach was more poetic and ambient than the typical ukiyo-e style, and his innovative compositions were a great influence to Western painters.

Ando Hiroshige, ‘Lingering Snow at Asukayama,’ 14 3/4 in. x 10 in., Showa-era edition published by Adachi from re-carved woodblocks. Estimate: $250-$300. Jasper52 image

 

Koitsu Tsuchiya (1879-1949) specialized in landscape images. His 1934 print titled Snow at the Ukimido, Katada is from an edition published in 1946-57 by Watanabe with the publisher’s seal.

Koitsu Tsuchiya, ‘Snow at the Ukimido, Katada,’ 10.3 in x 15.4 in. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

 

Another highlight of the collection is an atmospheric image of a Tokyo landmark, Rain at Nihonbashi Bridge, by Noel Nouet. Created in 1936, this print is a later edition from the original block published by Doi on Doi watermarked paper.

Noel Nouet, ‘Rain at Nihonbashi Bridge,’ 10 1/2 in. x 15 1/2 in. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

6 Asian Arts Pieces Steeped in Tradition

Showcasing the rich history and cultural variety of Asia, this week’s curated Asian Decorative Art and Antiques collection features highly collectible Thangka paintings, Japanese weapon accessories, exquisite Chinese ceramics, and so much more. Below are six standout items you’re bound to enjoy.

Parinirvana Buddha Thangka Painting

Thangkas are Tibetan paintings on cotton, or silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. The thangka featured in the collection carries the auction’s highest estimate – $2,000-$2,500 – is by the artist Urken Lama. The scene depicts the Buddha Shakyamuni’s nirvana, his passing from earthly life to the ultimate goal of an enlightened being: “released from the bonds of existence through negation of desires that cause life’s intrinsic suffering.”

Parinirvana Buddha thangka painting by Urken Lama, 32 in. x 48 in. Estimate: $2,000-$2,250. Jasper52 image

 

Antique Meiji Scroll

Turning to the Land of the Rising Sun, this late Meiji scroll painting, ink on paper, features a classic mountainous landscape. It is an excellent painting for a tea ceremony.

Late Meiji (1890-1912) Japanese hanging scroll, ink on paper, of classic landscape signed Shoko followed by two red paste seals of the artist, 74 in x 30.5 in. Estimate: $165-$185. Jasper52 image

 

Antique Meiji Oribe Tea Ceremony Chaire

This Japanese pottery Oribe ware chaire, a jar for storing powdered green tea used in the tea ceremony, has a characteristic rich green crackled glaze and an underglaze brown painting of pine and saplings. Oribe ware, named after Furuta Oribe, a famous 16th-century tea master, was produced in the Mino and Seto kilns during the late Meiji period. It is particularly Japanese in taste and was not made for export. The stoneware body has concentric lines, stamped with the seal of the potter by the bottom.

Late Meiji Japanese pottery Oribe ware chaire, a tea caddy for storing powdered green tea used in tea ceremony. Height with cover: 3 1/16in. Estimate: $165-$185. Jasper52 image

 

Late Meiji Wooden Netsuke of Tanuki

From the late Meiji period is this charming netsuke in the form of a seated tanuki, a Japanese raccoon dog. In Japanese folklore the tanuki is a notorious trickster, who drums with his paws on his belly, imitating the sounding of gongs in temples and inns, and leading tired travelers astray in the darkness. This netsuke is skillfully carved in ittobori (one cut) style characteristic of the Hida school, with clever use of wood texture to add to the charm of the piece. It is signed “Kazuyuki,” an artist listed in Netsuke & Inro Artists and How to Read Their Signatures by George Lazarnick.

Late Meiji (1890s – 1910s) wooden netsuke of a tanuki, horn inlaid eyes, signed Kazuyuki (inset), 1 5/8 inches high, Estimate: $300-$350. Jasper52 image

 

Fighting Samurai Sword Menuki

Menuki are ornaments that fit into the palm for grip on a Japanese sword. Several pairs of menuki are included in this auction. This particular pair depicts armed samurai in bronze with silver inlays and gilding.

Pair of early 19th-century Japanese sword menuki, each depicting a samurai, bronze with silver inlays and gilding, 1 1/16 in. Estimate: $300-$350. Jasper52 image

 

Chinese Scholar’s Rootwood Brushrest

From 19th-century China is this scholar’s brush-rest / scholar’s rock made of rootwood, which looks like a craggy mountain range. Fashioned from the natural root of a tree, the piece exhibits old cracks, nicks, and scratches, adding to its wild energy.

Nineteenth-century Chinese scholar’s rootwood brush rest / scholar’s rock giving an impression of a craggy mountain, 5 1/4 in. x 2 1/4 in. Estimate: $225-$250. Jasper52 image

 

There are more treasures to be found. View the full catalog in this auction of Asian Arts and Antiques.

6 Fascinating Facts About Cats in Japanese Art

It’s hard to dispute the global popularity of cats, whether you fancy them or not. From museums to memes, they are represented in ancient Japanese art and contemporary communications. That’s quite a narration for the four-legged creatures who reportedly first took up residence in Japan around 500 A.D. The cats were brought on as crew members of ships departing China for Japan, charged with the task of protecting religious documents against destruction by mice. Obviously, their missions as mousers runs deep.

Upon arriving in Japan, it didn’t take long for felines to establish a revered presence within ancient Japanese culture. However, even as celebrated as they were, according to Japanese folklore, cats were also viewed by some as devious and perhaps possessing of darker traits. Nevertheless, one thing is certain, the presence of felines in Japanese art is extensive, and dates back centuries. With that, here are 6 intriguing facts about cats in Japanese art.

  1. One of the masters of ukiyo-e woodblock art of the 17th century, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), was reportedly a serious fan of felines, often sharing his living space with multiple cats at any given time. In fact, it is said that he kept a record of the cats that died, and treated the passing of each with a great symbolic reverence.

    Ukiyo-e woodblock art, “Cats of the Tokaido Road Triptych” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Sold for $1,100. Jasper52 image

  2. Another centuries-old applauded feline of Japanese art and culture is the Maneki Neko. Immediately recognizable for its raised and welcoming paw, the Maneki Neko (commonly referred to as Fortune Cat or Lucky Cat) is said to bear multiple telling symbols. For example, if the Maneki Neko bears calico colors, which is a traditional shading, it is said to hold the most potential for luck. You might also notice, the raised paw of a Maneki Neko figurine could be either the left or the right paw. Either way, the symbolism is positive, and is said to be a gesture of beckoning wealth and luck.
  3. In 1979, Japan issued a commemorative postage stamp featuring the painting “Black Cat,” circa 1910, created by Meiji-period painter Hishida Shunso (formal name was Hishida Miyoji) during a period of only five days. Interestingly, Shunso’s portrait also appeared on a postage stamp, as part of Japan’s Famous Japanese Personalities series in 1951.

    An image of the painting done by Shunso in 1910, and the postage stamp featuring the image, issued in 1979. ArtHistoryProject.com images

  4. One of the most heralded modern exhibitions featuring cats in Japanese artwork was the “Life of Cats: Selections From the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection.” The exhibition was presented in 2015 by the Japan Society Gallery in New York. Nearly 90 examples of Japanese art, in various mediums, was included in the exhibition.
  5. The presence of cats in Japanese art isn’t limited to sweet and small. Big cats also appear in artwork dating back centuries. One of the largest and most diverse collections of Japanese art in the world can be found at The Cleveland Museum of Art. The collection boasts 1,950 pieces, including the impressive six-panel ink on paper work titled “Dragon and Tiger” by 16th century Japanese and Zen monk Sesson Shukei.

    “Dragon and Tiger” six-panel folding screen ink on paper, 16th century, by Sesson Shukei. The Cleveland Museum of Art image

     

  6. Cats are also beloved characters within the storylines and art of modern-day manga – comics created in Japan. For instance, the character Minako Aino, in the wildly popular “Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon” manga of the late 20th century, is accompanied by her talking guardian and advisor, a white cat named Artemis. The manga is the vision of Japanese artist and writer Nako Takeuchi (1967). The illustrations and largely female-led cast of characters went on to influence the development of Magical Girl manga and anime.

Be it centuries-old ukiyo-e woodblock art or modern-day manga and anime art, the reverence for felines is a common thread within the art culture of Japan. Whether it’s because of their supposed mystical properties, elegant and mysterious characteristics, or something else altogether, the fascination with felines in Japanese art and society is alive and well.

 

6 Unique Pieces of Asian Decorative Art

The mystique and beauty of Asian decorative arts are readily apparent in this collection that includes highly collectible Indian statues, expertly executed scroll paintings, ceramics, cloisonné and carvings. Take a look below for 6 highlights from this stunning catalog.

A rare Tibetan thangka depicting Gyayin – the King of hte Mind – riding an elephant, while holding a snare in one hand to throw at his enemies and a razor in the other to cut “the life-roots of the obstacle-creating demons.” Dharmapala Pehar, the head of the Five Kings, is depicted in the lower right corner riding a white lion. Monbu Putra – the King of the Body – is shown in the lower left corner riding a lioness. Shing Jachen – the King of Virtue – is shown in the upper right corner riding a black horse. Dralha Kyechikbu – the King of Speech – is shown in the upper left corner riding a mule. This rare icon, beautifully painted with natural mineral pigments and gold on cotton, exhibits superb detailing.

Rare 18th- or early 19th-century framed Tibetan thangka depicting Gyayin. Painting size in sight: 9 1.2 x 8in (24.2cm x 20.2cm); frame size: 15 1/4 x 13 1/4in (38 x 34cm). Estimate: $1,300-$1,500. Jasper52 image

 

A beautiful original scroll painting on silk by Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918) titled Sparrow and Peony in Snow is a featured item in the auction. Trained by Japanese masters, Seitei received a silver medal for a painting he submitted to the Paris Exposition in 1878. He remained in Paris for three years and became the first Nihonga artist to reside in Europe to study Western painting.

Original scroll painting on silk by Watanabe Seitei (1851–1918), ‘Sparrow and Peony in Snow,’ signed ‘Seitei,’ late 19th–early 20th century, water stain at bottom, image size 47 1/4in X 17 1/2in. Estimate: $575-$625. Jasper52 image

 

Among the oldest objects in the auction is a Shang Dynasty (1766 BC – 1046 BC) pottery vessel, which is simply made of fired clay and stands at 10 1/2 inches tall.

Shang Dynasty pottery vessel, 8in wide x 7 1/2in deep x 10 1/2in. Estimate: $800-$900. Jasper52 image

 

From the early 20th century, is a bronze Tibetan Bodhisattva Du Mu figure, which is skillfully made and in its original condition.

Tibetan handmade bronze Bodhisattva, 12in high, circa 1900–1940. Estimate: $450-$500. Jasper52 image

 

Carved from burlwood, a 2-inch toggle of a seated man served a purpose in its day. This larger example of the form would have been strung with a cord through the holes under each arm, hung from a sash and used as a counterweight to a tobacco pouch or other utilitarian object. It is a fine example of 18th- or 19th-century Chinese folk art.

Chinese toggle carved burlwood toggle, mid 1700s to 1800s, 2in high x 2 1/4in wide. Estimate: $525-$600. Jasper52 image

 

Finally, an unusual item for smokers is a Chinese water pipe dating to the first half of the 20th century. It is decorated in enameled copper, which has its original finish. The pipe is complete with a tobacco holder, brush and tobacco tweezers.

Chinese water pipe, 1900-1940, 16 1/2in high, enameled copper. Estimate: $220-$250. Jasper52 image

 

Traveling from Tradition to Modern Through Japanese Prints

Colorful views of Japan conveyed in traditional Japanese woodblock prints comprise this week’s collection filled with both modern and traditional works. With this array of Japanese woodblock prints, you can see directly how Japanese printmakers impacted the development of modern art. Featuring names like Hokusai and Hiroshige, this sale reveals nuanced techniques and traditional Japanese values.

Utagawa Hiroshige, aka ando Hiroshige, was a Japanese artist of the 19th century and is considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e movement. His approach was more poetic and ambient than the typical ukiyo-e style, and his innovative compositions were a great influence to Western painters.

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.

Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), ‘Abalone, Needlefish and Peach Blossoms,’ 24.2 x 37.1 cm (9 1/2in x 14 5/8 in), printed in circa 1832. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

 

Mountain Road is a traditional landscape scene of mountains and countryside by Gihachiro Okuyama (1907-1981). He was an active participant in both the sosaku hanga movement, which was the avant-garde movement of the 1950s-1970s, and the shin hanga movement, showing a mixture of traditional Japanese and modern Western elements.

Gihachiro Okuyama, ‘Mountain Road,’ 48.9 x 24.9cm, Showa (1926-1989). Estimate: $150-$200. Jasper52 image

 

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He is best known as the author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the internationally iconic print titled The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s, as well as Mount Fuji Seen From the Sea.

Hokusai Katsushika, ‘Mount Fuji Seen From the Sea,’ Showa edition published by Takamizawa, publisher’s seal on verso, 12.4in x 9in. Estimate: $400-$500. Jasper52 image

 

Shiro Kasamatsu (1898-1991) found early success. His prints were seen by Watanabe Shozaburo in 1919, and he published more than 50 prints with them by the late 1940s. He was a part of the shin-hanga movement, which was created from the late Meiji era until World War II, showing a mixture of traditional Japanese and modern Western elements.

Shiro Kasamatsu, ‘Kinokunisaka in the rain,’ published by Watanabe, 6 mm seal, signed Shiro, postwar impression, 1946-1957, ôban format, 26.5 x 38.8 cm. Estimate: $250-$350. Jasper52 image

 

Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the shin-hanga style movement, a movement that was influenced by European Impressionism with imagery focused on landscapes, women and nature. Yoshida is noted especially for his excellent landscape prints.

Hiroshi Yoshida, ‘Fujiyama from Okitsu,’ ôban format, 39.9 x 27.4 cm (15 11/16in x 10 13/16 in), printed circa 1928. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image

 

Hasui Kawase (1883-1957) was a Japanese artist and printmaker who also became a prominent figure in the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement of the early 20th century. His first edition Spring Evening, Ueno Toshogu Shrine from 1948 is a stunning example of his work.

Kawase Hasui, ‘Spring Evening, Ueno Toshogu Shrine,’ 1948 (first edition), published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 9 1/2in x 14 1/4in. Estimate: $800-$1,500. Jasper52 image

 

Enjoy this beautiful collection and remember to register to bid.

How to Care for Japanese Woodblock Prints

The beauty of Japanese woodblock prints seems to transcend time and space. However, without conscientious care, time and the locations where the prints are displayed can be unkind to these exquisite depictions of Japanese culture.

To gain experienced insight about care, display and storage of Japanese woodblock prints, we turned to Roni Neuer, co-founder of Ronin Art Gallery, New York, NY.

Safe and Savvy Approach to Limiting Light Exposure

“Dainan Gate in Mukden,” Hiroshima Yoshida, circa 1937, est. $900-$1,400. Jasper52 image

As with any work of art on paper, prolonged exposure to sunlight can be damaging to Japanese woodblock prints, Neuer explained. In fact, exposure to any type of light over extended periods of time can do more harm than good. The light causes fading, especially with pre-20th-century prints (Edo period) that often were made with vegetable dyes.

Before giving serious consideration to removing prints and opting for mass storage, Neuer is quick to point out the purpose of art, and therefore the importance of conscientious care.

“To me, the function of art is to bring a little enjoyment to life. Because of the nature of art, and our role as its stewards, we must be mindful of how we care for it, how we hang it, and where we place it.”

With that in mind, Neuer recommends the following measures:

  1. Research potential framers and ask questions.
  2. Ensure framing of Japanese woodblock prints includes glass with a UV filter (conservation glass).
  3. Confirm the use of acid-free or archival materials in matting.
  4. If hinges or tape are used, ensure that they are acid-free and used sparingly.

“Emperor Cranes,” Ohara Koson, circa 1930s, est. $750-$1,000. Jasper52 image

Another essential recommendation Neuer shares with clients is to add the date the print was framed, and every five years replace the frame glass.

“The technology and science of archiving changes, with new processes and better materials,” Neuer explained. “You may have had it framed properly 20 years ago, but in that time it’s lost a lot of protective properties.”

An example of the significant impact of extensive exposure to sunlight is shown below. Two examples of the same Hiroshige woodblock print are shown side by side, with the example on the right obviously faded, due to extensive exposure to sunlight.

Side-by-side views of Hiroshige’s “Plum Garden at Kameido,” showing a perfect example of the print and another that has faded due to exposure to sunlight. Courtesy of Ronin Art Gallery

“Fading and the browning process happens gradually,” said Neuer, who often uses the example of a print with green mountains, which due to extensive exposure to light, was suddenly a print with mountains that had turned blue. “You don’t see it happening, until it’s happened.”

Savvy Storage Practices

Just as in displaying and framing prints, acid-free is a term that must be kept in mind when storing Japanese woodblock prints. Archival (acid-free) papers and folders, and archival boxes help create a protective haven for prints. Cotton rag Japanese-style paper is also used. These types of materials are available through reputable frame shops, art supply stores, and online.

Conscientious care is an integral part of an investment in, and long-term enjoyment of, Japanese woodblock prints. When preservation isn’t kept in mind from the very beginning of one’s ownership of a print, a treasured artwork can be irreversibly ruined – and that’s never an option.


Roni Neuer is one of America’s foremost experts on the subject of 17th- through 21st-century Japanese prints. She co-founded the Ronin Gallery in 1975, with Herbert Libertson. She is the author of more than 40 exhibition catalogs and Ukiyo-e: 250 Years of Japanese Art, a 500-page history of Japanese prints.


Click here to view this week’s auction of Japanese woodblock prints.

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

 

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