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Please contact JapanesePrints-London for prices of catalogued items. We also purchase prints, paintings and books individually or as collections. Richard Kruml also appraises and values collections.

 

Dealing in fine Japanese prints, paintings and books since 1968.

 

Mori SOSEN (1747-1821)




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A fine original painting, sumi and light colour on silk; 41.75 x 15 in; 106 x 38.1 cms. His life is not well documented but he is known to have studied under the Kano artist Yamamoto Joshunsai (? -1781) before being drawn into Maruyama Okyo’s (1733-1795) artistic circle and his style is more Shijo than anything else. His animal paintings were evidently highly valued by Okyo. He was an immediate favourite with eastern collectors because of his monkey paintings at which he excelled, although he was more versatile than literature implies and highly accomplished at drawing other animals. But his images of monkeys take precedence and he is considered the pre-eminent painter, east or west, on this subject. He is said to have lived in the woods for three years eating fruit and nuts to better study the monkeys and other animals at close quarters. (Even if this is apocryphal it underlines the appreciation of his commitment to understanding the monkey.) Shows two monkeys on a bough beneath a large red sun. In very good condition. Genuine Sosens (and there are many copies) show a great skill in the way their fur coats are built up with hundreds of fine strokes. The box that goes with the painting has an inscription on the lid: “A painting of monkeys by Mori Sosen” and on the underside of the lid is a guarantee by Ayaoka Yushin (a Shijo painter and pupil of Shibata Zeshin, [1846-1910]) signed Ayaoka with seal Yutoku and dated June 1891. The painting signed “Painted by Mori Sosen early spring [=January] 1800” with seals Mori Shusho and Sosen.

 

 

Status: Available

 

 




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Toba HIROMARU (Active 1804-1818)




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An original painting showing a parading courtesan. Sumi and colour on paper, 45.5 x 11.25 in; 115.5 x 28.5 cms. A rare artist of the Utagawa school. Probably a pupil of Utagawa Toyohiro. His extant paintings show a considerable talent with particularly attenuated faces. Another example is in the MFA, Boston, acc. no. 11.7369 as well as there having been two sold at auction: Christies, NY 16/9/2003, lot 153 and Bonhams NY 18/3/2015, lot 3010. Some minor marks and creasing, but otherwise good condition. Signed Toba Hiromaru hitsu. Seal unread.

 

 

Status: Available

 

 




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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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Tosa, kaijo katsuo tsuri, “Tosa [Province], Bonito Fishing at Sea.” From a set of 69 prints [Dai Nihon] Rokujuyoshu meisho zue, “Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces [of Japan]” published by Koshihei between 1853 and 1856, this being 1855. Tosa, located on the southern coast of the island of Shikoku, was famous for its bonito.

 

 

Very fine impression of the first edition. Fine colour and condition. Signed Hiroshige ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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A snow scene showing 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 version offered here has the mountain printed in brown. Other impressions keep the mountain white. The other basic difference is that the design is known with and without a horizon line and that there is at least one impression where the un-inked, blind-printed line can be seen in a raked light. 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 a 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.

 

 

Very good impression, colour and condition with splashed gofun. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi hitsu.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI II (1777-1835)




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An aizuri (blue) print from a set Tosei bijin hana-awase, “Beauties of the Latest Fashion Compared to the Beauty of Flowers.” In this case kikyo flowers – the Chinese bellflower. Aizuri prints were the outcome of avoiding intermittent edicts promulgated by the bakufu prohibiting the number of blocks that could be used. The aim being to curb excesses, raise moral standards and encourage thrift. Published by Shimizo, c. late 1820s. Three other prints from set are in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, 76.151.13; 14; 15.

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa TOYOHIRO (1773-1828)




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An oban print with title: Ryukyujin no zu, “Pictures of People from Ryukyu.” (A chain of Japanese islands stretching southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan.) The Ryukyuans had a specific culture, one element of which was to select young boys (gakudoji) from the upper classes of the capital to be apprenticed to perform as women in dances during the processionals to Edo. These processions of feudal lords, often with elaborate retinues, were required by the Shogun and were a way of keeping the lords submissive and cash-strapped as the journeys were extremely expensive. The gakudoji are usually shown riding a white horse with an attendant holding a large umbrella (a colourful parasol in this case). Another (heavily trimmed) design from this set is in the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. Toyohiro seems to have had a particular interest in these boys as he designed a number of other prints on this subject. Of the utmost rarity: I have not seen another print from this set in 50 years of dealing. Published by Shimizu, c. 1804.

 

 

Fine impression and colour with strong yellow ground. Possibly slightly trimmed (?), otherwise very good condition. Signed Toyohiro ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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Toyohara KUNICHIKA (1835-1900)




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The actor Sawamura Tossho II in the Okazaki no ba, “Okazaki Scene” from Okazaki no neko, “The Cat of Okazaki.” This episode from the famous play takes place in an old temple at Okazaki on the Tokaido. An old cat witch haunts the temple attacking young women. Published by Daikokuya Kinzaburo, c. mid 1860s. Rare.

 

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Kunichika hitsu.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa KUNIMARO (Active 1850-1875)




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An oban showing Jiraiya (Ogata Shuma Hiroyuki), a ninja who was able to transmogrify himself into a giant toad. His arch enemy was Orochimaru, a master of serpent magic, who is seen here as a giant snake. Jiraiya kills the snake with his heavy o-zutsu, hand cannon. Based on a multi-volume book by Mizugakiya Egao, Jiraiya goketsu Monogatari, it went on to be a very successful Kabuki play performed at the Kawarazaki-za Theatre in 7/1852 with Ichikawa Danjuro VIII playing Jiraiya. Published by Daikokuya Heikichi, 8/1852.

 

 

Very fine impression. Fine colour. Slightly trimmed at bottom, otherwise very good condition. Signed Kunimaro ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa YOSHITORA (Active c. 1840-1880)




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An oban with title: Furyu saya-e: oiran, “Elegant Sheath-Pictures: Oiran.”A catoptric (mirror as opposed to an oblique) anamorphic print showing a parading courtesan. These prints were meant to be viewed in conical or cylindrical mirrors placed at the bottom of the image. The flat distorted image was then seen undistorted. However, in Japan the image was viewed in the curved surface of a sword sheath. Anamorphosis was known in Europe in the early 15th century and also in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Published by Enshuya Matabei, c. 1845. Another impression is illustrated in Edo no asobi-e, Shinichi Inagaki, Tokyo Shoseki, 1988, plate 6. Very rare.

 

 

Fine impression. Very good colour and condition. Signed Ichimosai Yoshitora ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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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. (A good guide to the quality of impression is to look at the outline of Benkei’s face: This fine line started to break down early on. The set was popular and many editions were printed and many late impressions exist. Great care was taken with the cutting of the blocks on this set and only early impressions do them justice. There should be subtle gradation in the sky and the title cartouche has hardly any colour.) Fine colour and condition. An impression that has not been in an album. Full margins. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

 

Status: Available

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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A diptych showing the Buddhist priest Dainin about to kill the girl Umegae. Daininbo Umegae o satsugai no zu, “Picture of the Priest Dainin Killing the Girl Umegae.” From a set of prints Shinsen azuma nishiki-e, “New Selection of Eastern Brocade Pictures.” The priest momentarily looks up at a passing cuckoo. The set published by Tsunashima Kamekichi between 1885 and 1889, this being 1886.

 

 

Very fine impression of the first edition. Fine colour and condition. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1865)




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A diptych showing Musashi-bo Benkei, renowned for his herculean strength, battling with the young Onzoshi Ushiwaka Maru (Yoshitsune) on Gojo Bridge. The story relates how Benkei (1155-1189) wandered around Kyoto with the intention of relieving 1000 samurai of their swords. One night with one more sword to go he saw Yoshitsune playing a flute and wearing a golden sword at the Gojotenjin Shrine. They agreed to fight on Gojo Bridge in southern Kyoto. However, Yoshitsune was too agile for Benkei and had been educated in the secrets of fighting by the mountain tengu. Following Yoshitsune’s victory Benkei became Yoshitsune’s retainer. Published by Hei, c. early 1830s. (This publisher produced many of Kunisada’s prints in the early 1830s.) Very rare.

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Kochoro Kunisada ga.

 

 

Status: Available

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Toyohara CHIKANOBU (1838-1912)




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A triptych Ryogoku hanabi zu, “Fireworks at Ryogoku.” Chikanobu designed a number of triptychs on this subject and boating on the Sumida River, but this is the best and rarest. The government in 1733 had a display of fireworks over the bridge called the Ryogoku kawabiraki hanabi, “Ryogoku River-opening Fireworks” as part of a memorial service for the victims of starvation due to crop failures and an epidemic of cholera. This became an annual event.

 

 

Fine impression and colour. Minor marks, otherwise very good condition. Signed Toyohara Chikanobu.

 

 

Status: Available

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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A large panel showing a parrot on a flowering crab apple branch. This is the very rare first edition published by Jakurindo (Wakasaya Yoichi). It was reissued by Kikakudo (Sanoya Kihei). Published c. early 1830s. Hiroshige is rightly regarded as the leading landscape artist. However, many of his finest designs are in the fan (uchiwa-e) and bird and flower (kacho-e) genres. They are not so well known because of their often great rarity.

 

 

Fine impression. Very good colour. Slight trimming, otherwise very good condition. Signed Hiroshige hitsu.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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Sakasai no watashi, “Ferry at Sakasai” from Meisho Edo hyakkei, the “One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.” The set published by Uoya Eikichi between 1856 and 1858, this being 1857. The set shows famous sights, popular annual events, and festivals in and around Edo in the four seasons. Two Chinese egrets are seen flying down to join other egrets on the Nakagawa. The ferry is seen in the background.

 

 

Very fine impression of the first edition. Fine colour and condition. Signed Hiroshige ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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A snow scene Bizen Yugayama, “Mount Yuga in Bizen [Province].” From a set of 20 prints Sankai mitate sumo, “Mounains and Sea Contending Like Wrestlers.” The title is in a sumo umpire’s fan (a gunbai). There are 10 prints of mountains and 10 prints of harbours. The set was published by Yamadaya in 1858 (except for Etchu Tateyama which was published by Marujin). A beautiful print.

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. There is an anomaly here (as sometimes happens in Ukiyo-e): The first edition of this set has a variegated cartouche. However, the impression here is unquestionably the earliest but has only a one-colour cartouche. Signed Hiroshige ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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Mii no bansho, “Evening Bell at Miidera Temple” from a set Omi hakkei no uchi, “Eight Views in Omi [Province].” Shows the temple hidden amongst hills on the southern side of Lake Biwa. Miidera is the common name for the Onjoji, a temple of the Tendai sect founded in 858. Published by Hoeido and Eikyudo in c. 1834-5. The “Eight Views” theme was derived (as so much else in Japanese art) from China and based on the Eight Views of Xiaoxiang paintings of the 11th century. The subject was transposed to Omi and then taken up by such artists as Harunobu, and later Hiroshige. It was often playfully alluded to in sets of eight prints in mitate-e style.

 

 

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

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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Kozuke, Harunasan setchu, “Kozuke [Province], Mount Haruna Under Snow.” From a set of 69 prints [Dai Nihon] Rokujuyoshu meisho zue, “Famous Places in the Sixty-odd Provinces [of Japan]” published by Koshihei between 1853 and 1856, this being 1853. A red bridge spans a gorge with precipitous cliffs and a fast flowing river. Fantastic crags point upwards into the sky. In the distance is Mount Haruna – a sleeping volcano.

 

 

Very good impression. Good colour. Trimmed close, otherwise good condtion. Signed Hiroshige ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A street scene with travellers, an ox cart and a teahouse at the Okido gate, Takanawa, in Edo bay to the south-east of Edo. This stretch of coast leading to Shinagawa was lined with stalls and restaurants and very popular. The gate – the stone remains of which can be seen on the left and right – was the last travellers passed through on the Tokaido road to Edo. Another impression is in MFA Boston (21.10262, ex Spaulding via Frank Lloyd Wright) and a third in the BM (1937-0710-0-209).

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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An extremely rare and unusual e-goyomi surimono for the year of the Horse, 1822, the long and short months running along the top of the theatre curtain. The surimono shows the Ichimura Theatre in Edo. The theatre curtain over the stage is a flap that hinges up to reveal the actors within. The characters on the curtain in pink and gold read: Shinjo hiiki renchu, “An offering from the [associated] patronage clubs.” (In fact, three fan clubs plus a daimyo, Mori Narimoto, whose poem top left is signed with his art name Ryuotei Edo No Hananari.) The three actors revealed are, from left to right, Seki Sanjuro II, Onoe Kikugoro V, and Ichikawa Danjuro VII in the play Three Famed Warriors Crossing Paths. However, they are not shown in character but dressed casually. Their emblems appear on the curtain: the waterfall-ascending carp for Danjuro; the chrysanthemum for Kikugoro; and the crosshatch for Sanjuro. Another impression is illustrated in The Private World Of Surimono, Sadako Ohki and Adam Haliburton, Yale University Press, 2020, no 59, p. 213. An impression missing the flap is illustrated in Surimono: Prints By Elbow, Edythe Polster and Alfred H. Marks, Lovejoy Press, 1980, F-D 1933-4-898, p. 441 and 437. Provenance: Ex H. Beres collection, sold Sothebys, Paris, 27/11/2002, lot 85. Seal on reverse.

 

 

Very good impression and colour with gold and silver. Very good condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

 

 

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)




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A surimono showing three overlapping fans. The top fan shows the first sunrise of the new year behind a shachi on a castle roof. Usually called dolphins, they in fact had the head of a tiger and body of a carp. The second shows a court lady and attendant collecting young pines on the first day of the year. The third shows an imperial ox cart. Possibly for the Ox year 1829. Another impression was in the Adolphe Stoclet sale, Sothebys 8th June 2004, lot 463, p. 242. Poems by Shinshukei, Shigekado and Shinratei Manzo (leader of the Manjiren club).

 

 

Very fine impression and colour with gold and silver. Fine condition. Signed Hokkei.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa YOSHIIKU (1833-1904)




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Torii Matasuke swimming underwater from a set of 28 prints Eimei nijuhasshuku, “Twenty-eight Murders with Verses.” The set was published jointly with Yoshitoshi, each contributing 14 prints. Matasuke is seen gripping the topknot of the severed head of his lord whom he has mistakenly murdered. Published by Kinseido between 1866-1869, this being 1867.

 

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI (1839-1892)




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The Monkey King: One of the best designs from the set Tsuki hyakushi, the “Hundred Phases of the Moon.” The set published between 1885 and 1892 (this being 1886) by Akiyama Buemon. Based on the Chinese fable, the Monkey King achieved immortality by stealing peaches from the Garden of Immortal Peaches. He is seen with his fighting stave and the Jade Hare that lived on the moon and was constantly pounding herbs for immortals.

 

 

Fine impression from a very early edition. The set was popular and many editions were printed and many late impressions exist. . Great care was taken with the cutting of the blocks on this set and only early impressions do them justice. Fine colour and condition. An impression that has not been in an album. Full margins. Signed Yoshitoshi.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Ichieisai YOSHITSUYA (Active mid 19th century)




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A triptych with title: Ryozoku shinzan yojutsu kurabe no zu, “A Picture of the Two Enemies in a Witchcraft Match in the Deep Mountain.” Shows Hakamadare Yasusuke and Kidomaru fighting with magic. Yoshitoshi designed a vertical diptych of the same subject in 1887. Published 1860 by Tsutaya Kichizo. A wonderful design.

 

 

Very good impression and colour. Slight trimming and minor corner defects, otherwise very good condition. Signed Ichieisai Yoshitsuya.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Suzuki HARUNOBU (1724-1770)




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A chuban shunga print showing a fisherman taking advantage of a young girl on a boat on the Sumida River. The couple are hidden behind a four-armed scoop-net called a yotsude-ami which was used to catch whitebait in the spring. The British Museum copy (OA+,O.125) gives the location as most probably being at Mitsumata, between Eitai and Shin’o bridges, based on what looks like Lord Tayasu’s residence in the background. Another impression is illustrated in Shunga, Marco Fagioli, Octavo, 1997, no. 23, p.45. Published late 1760s. Rare.

 

 

Very good impression. Some slight fading, otherwise good condition.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Hishikawa MORONOBU (c. 1618-1694)




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The father of Ukiyo-e and the first to design single-sheet prints. Illustrated numerous books and produced a considerable number of paintings. A good proportion of his output was in the form of shunga. The print here is, arguably, from his finest shunga album. A set of 12 prints, although it is known in two versions with two alternative designs making a total of 14 sheets. For one complete set see Shunga The Art Of Love In Japan, Tom and Mary Evans, Paddington Press, 1975, Illus. 5.10-5,21. Rare.

 

 

Very good impression. Original hand-colouring. Minor marks and signs of mounting au verso, but otherwise very good condition.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Attributed to SEIKOKU (Active c. 1794-1818)




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A kapazuri-e (stencil print) hosoban showing the actor Kataoka Nizaemon VII (1755-1837) as Togoro. A striking design and probably unique. There are similar prints signed by Chorakusai (Seikoku) and the publisher Suharaya Tosuke was active c. 1812-1829 and is known to have published prints by Seikoku. Published c. 1817.

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)




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A hosoban showing the actor Iwai Kiyotaro II as Arakawa Taro and standing above him in an onnagata role Osagawa Tsuneyo II as the lady Koromode Gozen in the play Toki ni oshu Tsubo no ishibuni performed at the Ichimura-za Thatre in the 11th month 1802. At the top right is a seal which reads Inu, “Dog” (for Dog year 1802). Published by Murataya Jirobei.

 

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Toyokuni ga. e actor Kataoka Nizaemon VII (1755-1837) as Togoro. A striking design and probably unique. There are similar prints signed by Chorakusai (Seikoku) and the publisher Suharaya Tosuke was active c. 1812-1829 and is known to have published prints by Seikoku. Published c. 1817.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1768-1825)




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An actor print showing Ogino Isaburo II as the bandit Kaido Saburo standing with axe, and Matsumoto Koshiro V as Taira no Masakado in the play Otoko narikeri onna Masakado, “What Men ? A Female Masakado” performed at the Ichimura-za Theatre, 11/1801. Published by Izumiya Ichibei.

 

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Utagawa HIROSHIGE (1797-1858)




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An original harimaze-e drawing (two or more images on a single page originally intended to be cut apart). Sumi on paper. Intended for a set of such prints of the complete Tokaido. This sheet shows five stations: Shono (horse); Ishiyakushi (cherry blossom); Kuwana (oysters and cockles); Asakusa (the tori of a temple and visitor); Yokkaichi (boats in the bay). Provenance: Ex H. Beres collection, sold Sothebys, Paris, 25/11/2003, lot 168. Minor faults, but all congruent with an original drawing that has survived. Signed Hiroshige bottom right.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Kikugawa EIZAN (1787-1867)




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The first sheet from one of Eizan’s most famous triptychs: Furyu yusuzumi san bijin, “Three Fashionable Beauties Cooling Off in the Evening.” Shows a teahouse waitress seated outside her establishment with silhouettes of customers showing on the shoji screen. Published by Yamadaya Shobei, c. 1814-17.

 

 

Fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Kikugawa Eizan hitsu.

 

 

Status: Sold

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