Nishikawa SUKENOBU (1671-1750)




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The pre-eminent painter in the Kyoto area during the first half of the eighteenth century. He enjoyed a great reputation in his lifetime and his (over 100) illustrated books influenced many artists, not only in the Kyoto-Osaka area but also in Edo. Many of his books were published by Hachimonjiya in Kyoto such as Hyakunin joro shina sadame (1723). Other famous books being: Tokiwa gusa (1731); Asakayama (1739); Chiyomi-gusa (1740). His paintings were collected by his contemporaries with Yanagisawa Kien (in his Hitorine, c. 1726) calling him the “supreme master” of Ukiy-e, superior to Okumura Masanobu, Torii Kiyonobu, Hanekawa Chincho and Kaigetsudo. Full colour on silk, 30.25 x 17.5 in; 76.7 x 44.3 cms. Shows a typically refined and elegant beauty watching her assistant washing a tea-whisk in a stream. Suihen bijin zu. There are two other versions of this design by Sukenobu: One was auctioned in 1933 at the Osaka Art Club from the W. Sturgis collection and there is another from Nagano, Japan, illustrated in Kokka, no. 18, 2011, p. 10. Other examples are in major museums such as the Metropolitan, Philadelphia, Freer, Honolulu, British, etc. Although Sukenobu produced many paintings, genuine works are now rare. Painted c late 1730s. Minor marks and creases and some loss of gofun, but in very good condition for an early 18th century painting. Sealed Nishikawa shi in and Sukenobu. Illustrated and exhibited in Nikuhitsu Ukiyoe Beauty, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, 1983, no. 21, ex Hirano collection, Akita Prefecture.

 

Very good condition. Signed and sealed Bokusen. See my Blog on this update.

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Keisai EISEN (1790-1848)




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Mariko, Station 21, from the Bijin Tokaido which compares beauties to the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. This Station was famous for tororojiru, a dish of yams and white bean paste. An inn behind is advertising this meal.The set was published by Tsutaya, c early 1830s but only 40 designs are known as the government considered them a little risqué. The set was reissued without the Station numbers and censor seal for 1846.

 

Fine impression and colour. Nice oxidation. Very good condition. Full size. Signed Keisai Eisen ga.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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The best design from the set Tsuki hyakushi, the “Hundred Phases of the Moon”. The set published between 1885 and 1892 ( this being 1886 ) by Akiyama Buemon. Benkei against a full moon. In 1185 Yoshitsune attacked by his half-brother Minamoto no Yoritomo, was forced to flee to northern Japan by ship. Sailing along the Inland Sea off the coast of Harima Province not far from Kyoto, the ship was struck by a storm in Daimotsu Bay caused by the vengeful ghosts of the Taira warriors Yoshitsune and his men had slain. Benkei pacified the spirits in the prow of the boat by holding up his string of prayer beads.

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. (A good guide to the quality of the impression is to look at the outline of Benkei’s face: This fine line started to break down early on.) An impression that has not been in an album: Full margins with very extensive mica. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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Roba kiwan o mochisaru zu, the best design from Shinkei sanjurokkaisen, “New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts.” The set published by Sasaki Toyokichi, 1889. The well-known story relates how Watanabe no Tsuna cuts off the arm of the demon Ibaraki near the Rashomon Gate in Kyoto in 976. Watanabe locks the arm in a box. Subsequently he is visited by his wet-nurse who asks to see the arm, whereupon she seizes it and flies off revealing her true guise as that of the demon. The story was made into a no play, Ibaraki, and later a kabuki play.

 

Very fine first edition, fine colour and condition. Full size with the publishing details intact on left margin. The second edition (with only two-colour cartouche) is shown on the front cover of The Age of Yoshitoshi, The Rijksmuseum, 1990 and no. 47, p. 40. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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Hohodemi Mikoto battling a giant bream to regain the magic fish hook. The best design from a fine chuban set Biyu Suikoden published by Omiya Kyujiro, 1866/7 (this being 1867). He eventually marries the Sea God’s daughter Princess Toyotama. There is a later edition with the publisher’s name removed.

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Kaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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Takagi Umanosuke, a seven foot tall Jujutsu master, holding a trial of courage with a giant ghost in an ancient temple. He also mastered the arts of Bojutsu (staff), Sojutsu (spear), and Naginarajutsu (halberd). One of the best designs from a fine chuban set Biyu Suikoden published by Omiya Kyujiro, 1866/7 (this being 1866). There is a later edition with the publisher’s name removed.

 

Very good impression and colour.One small mark, otherwise good condition. Signed Kaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu.

 

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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Inuzaka Keno Tanetomo struggling with four adversaries from Kyokutei-o seicho Hakkenshi zui-ichi, “The One and Only Eight Dog History of Old Kyokutei [Bakin], Best of Refined Authors.” The set of eight prints form diptychs and are based on Bakin’s (1767-1848) famous novel Satomi Hakkenden, “Eight Dogs of the Satomi Clan.” Robinson S5.7.

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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The battle of Fujikawa from a set of triptychs Toyotomi Shoshinroku published by Yorozumago, c 1869. The set relates Hideyoshi’s (1537-1598) exploits. From humble origins he became the second unifier of Japan who, after 100 years of war, brought stability and peace.

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. Full size with extra paper all around. Signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu.

 

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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A triptych showing the Chinese Emperor Chao Lieh Ti (Jap. Gentoku) fording the Tan river. Tsuzoku Sangokushi no uchi: Gentoku uma wo odorasu Tan-kei. The story relates how Gentoku was surrounded in his castle by his brother-in-law’s troops. The only means of escape was down the steep western battlement to the Tan gorge. Gentoku mounts his horse Tokiro and jumps into the ravine and escapes. On the opposite shore is the Oxe Boy (Ushidoji). Published by Tsuta-ya Kichizo 1853 (an Ox year). Robinson T296 and colour Pl. 61.

 

Fine impression and colour. Slight trimming around, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.

 

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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Daininbo Umegae o satsugai no zu, “Picture of the Priest Dainin Killing the Girl Umegae from the set Shinsen azuma nishiki-e, “New Selection of Eastern Brocade Pictures.” The set was based on episodes from kabuki drama although set in naturalistic surroundings. Published by Tsunashima Kamekichi between 1885-89 (this being 1886).

 

Very fine impression, colour and condition. Full, untrimmed yellow borders. Two-colour cartouche: Supposedly the first edition has three-colour cartouche but this impression could not be better, so presumably the printer had a forgetful day. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

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Hasegawa SADANOBU II (active 1867-1880s)




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An original painting by Sadanobu II. A reclining beauty reading a book. There appears to be nothing else like this by Sadanobu, and indeed, there are very few bijin-ga prints by him. A beautiful painting.
Sumi and colour on silk. Image size 13 x 9.25 inches; 33 x 24 cms. Slight loss of gofun and minor marks. Mounted onto board.


 

Signed Ho Utamaro Sadanobu, “copied [ or imitating ] Utamaro, Sadanobu” with Sadanobu seal.

 

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Keisan EISEN (1790-1848)




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A high-ranking courtesan ( oiran ) looking over her shoulder. From a set of six prints: Bijin kaichu kagami – Jisei rokkassen: Ariwara no Narihira, “ A Pocket Mirror of Beauties – Six Immortal Poets of the Era: Ariwara no Narihira.” The set compares the beauties to the six “immortal” waka poets of the 9th/10th centuries. The maple leaves on the oiran’s collar identify the subject as compared to the poet Ariwara no Narihira ( 825-880 A.D. ). The set published by Senichi, c 1826-28.

 

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Fine early impression. Fine colour. Very slight soil and trimming bottom right, otherwise fine condition. Signed Keisai Eisen ga.

 

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Kikugawa EIZAN (1787-1867)




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A set of six prints: Furyu ukiyo sugata comparing beautiful women to the six poetical geniuses of the 9th/10th centuries. This design interpreting a poem by Fumiya no Yasuhide which speaks of the wild wind of Autumn. The beauty holds a brush with her teeth while she prepares ink to complete a letter. Unidentified publisher, c 1810s.

 

Fine impression and colour. Very good condition. Full size. Signed Kikugawa Eizan hitsu.

 

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI (1769-1825)




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One of Toyokuni’s most famous books: 2 volumes bound as one, Yakusha Awase Kagami, “A Mirror of Actors’ Physiognomy.” Published Kyowa 4 (1804) by Bunshundo and Yamadaya Sanshiro. Vol. I, 4pp. preface, undated, 18 single-page half-length portraits of actors below kyoka poems. Vol. II, 15 single-page half-length portraits, followed by single page poem signed Ichikawa Hakuen (Danjuro V), 4pp. postscript, signed Kankoku. Lacking original covers with publisher Toto Banshundo on inside cover of Vol. I. Also lacking 2pp. second postscript by Banshundo and colophon. Very minor soil and three portraits with colour turned, otherwise very fresh impressions. Extremely Rare.

 

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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Nichiren struggling up a snow-covered mountain near Tsukahara on the Island of Sado. The best design from Koso goichidai ryakuza, the “Illustrated Abridged Biography of the Founder.” Nichiren being the founder of the Buddhist Nichiren sect ( Nichiren shu – Kuniyoshi being a follower ) and indeed the set of ten prints may have been commissioned to mark the 550th anniversary of his death. Published by Iseya Rihei, c 1831. Like many great landscapes, there exist different states which causes confusion over which is the earliest. The basic difference is that the design is known with and without a horizon line and that there is at least one impression where the uninked, blind-printed line can be seen in a raked light (as indeed it can on this impression). It has been asserted that those impressions without are the earliest; however, it seems from this that the sumi block was probably cut initially with the line but the publishers thought that it looked aesthetically better without printing it, and it was subsequently removed. In any case, this is an extremely rare print and most surviving examples appear to be similar in impression. There is a break in the border to the left of the bottom of Kuniyoshi’s signature which could give a guide to the earliest states, but as this is often painted in, it is not reliable. The composition is based on a design in the illustrated book Bumpo sansui gafu by Kawamura Bumpo, published posthumously in 1824. Although not from a landscape set, this is considered one of the great 19th century landscapes.


Fine impression and colour. Beautiful gradation with splashed gofun (oxidised). Slight centre fold, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi hitsu.

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A tripyych showing a party of women and a child running in the rain towards the entrance of the Mimeguri Shrine. Mimeguri no yudachi, “An Evening Shower at Mimeguri.” This famous shrine was on the bank of the Sumida at Mukojima and a short ferry ride from Asakusa. The shrine is also associated with prayers for rain. Kunisada was the most prolific 19th century artist, but amongst his vast output are real masterpieces. Published c 1830. A fine design.


Superb impression. Very fine colour. Small edge discolouration and small backed binding holes, otherwise fine condition. Signed Kochoro Kunisada ga.

 

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Ichiryusai HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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An extremely rare uncut fan print: Kominato in Awa Province from Boso meisho, Famous Places in Awa, Kazusa and Shimosa Provinces. Shows beauties viewing the bay. Another impression illustrated in Hiroshige no uchiwae, Hiroshige Fan Prints, Okuda, Atsuko, Unsodo, 2010, no 91, p 68 (plus two others from the set). Five other designs presently known: Hoda Coast; Mount Kiyosumi; Mount Fuji from Kisarazu; Mount Kano, and Kisarazu in Kazusa Province. Published by Tsujiya Yasubei, 12/1852. Certainly one of the few impressions extant.

 

Very fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Hiroshige ga.

 

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1798 – 1861)




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Nitta Tadatsune encountering the goddess of Mount Fuji and her dragon in a cavern with numerous stalactites and a fast flowing river and waterfall. Published by Tsuji-ya Yasubei c 1844. Robinson T143.


Very fine impression. Fine colour and condition. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga.



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Kawanabe KYOSAI (1831-1889)




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A fine painting, sumi on paper, showing three crows on the boughs of a willow tree. Crows were one of Kyosai’s favourite subjects and, apart from paintings, he used them in various formats: fan prints, oban and dai-oban prints. There are also numerous copies of his crow paintings. Signed Kyosai ga. 51 x 18.5 inches, 129.5 x 47 cms. Very good condition with original mount and rollers.


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Imao KEINEN (1845-1924)




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Probably the best known artist of his time and famous for his realistic depictions of birds and flowers. Two koi or carp swim beneath a rock with an overhanging white mountain rose. Ink, colour, gofun and gold on silk. Original mount with ivory rollers. A double kiri-wood box inscribed by Keinen’s son Keisho with date Showa 13, 1938 and a guarantee of authenticity. He entitles the painting Nobara yuri, “Koi playing under a wild rose.” Image size: 44.5 x 14.5 in; 113 x 36.5 cms. Slight crease, otherwise good condition. Signed Keinen.


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Tomikichiro TOKURIKI (1902-2000)




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A complete set of 5 double-sided original woodblocks comprising the keyblock and 9 colour blocks. Sold together with the finished print. Although late, it’s very rare to find complete sets of blocks and shows clearly how the prints were produced. Some of the blocks retain the keyblock proofs glued to them. For print 11, Kameyama Shrine in Kishu from a set of 50 prints of scenes of sacred places and historic landmarks. Published by Uchida Bijutsu Shoten, 1941. The average size of blocks is 11.75 x 17 in; 30 x 43 cms. All blocks sold “as is.” The print is in good condition.


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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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Six beauties representing the Six Tama Rivers: Kimuta, Noji, Ide, Chofu, Koya and Noda. They are shown fulling, washing and drying cloth. The streams were noted for their purity – an attribute being bestowed on the girls. A beautiful composition published by Omiya Yohei, c 1804.


Fine impression. Apart from the slight turning of the elusive blue, the colour is extremely well preserved. Very good condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.


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Hatta KOSHU (1760-1822)




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One volume complete, Koshu gafu, “The Drawing Book of Koshu.” Original covers and title slip: 35 sheets ( numbered ex last sheet ); 5pp. preface dated Bunka 9 ( 1812 ), signed Kamo Suetaka, 30 double-page colour-printed illustrations, 1 p. signature Koshu, seal Fujizane and Koshu, 2pp. closing note, dated Bunka 9, signed Fuminoya Shigetaka; sheets numbered 1/2 advertisements of publisher Yoshida Shimbei, Kyoto. Colophon dated Bunka 9 with publishers Kawachiya Kihei, Osaka and Yoshidaya Shimbei, Kyoto. A fine artist who came under the influence of Okyo. Jack Hillier in The uninhibited brush, Hugh M. Moss ltd, 1974, p. 162, speaks of the Koshu gafu: “This is a perfect exposition of his quite personal style and shows his competence in handling widely varied subject matter.” A two-volume edition without date is known and probably constitutes a second edition ( Brown, p. 100; Gonse III, No. 520 ). Ex collections Hayashi Tadamasa and H.M.Kaempfer. Slight soil and staining. One page with a blue pigment mark and small ink inscription on front cover, otherwise very good condition.


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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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Shows Tamagiku of the House of Tama from the extremely rare set of seven prints Bijin nanakomachi, “Beauties of the Seven Komachi” from Toyokuni’s best period ( c.1793-7 ). A parody of the Noh play Sekidera Komachi showing the courtesan writing a letter to her client. To her left is Komachi’s poem about aging. Ono no Komachi, the beautiful ninth century poetess, was inspiration for many prints. Ex Matsuki collection.


Fine impression and colour with extensive embossing. Yellow ground. Full size. Fine condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.


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