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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1865)



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An extremely rare and unusual surimono: I have only seen two impressions – both of which have passed through my hands, and one of which was gifted to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Shows the most famous playwright of his age – Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755-1829). His crest is clearly visible on his shoulder. He died on the 27th of the 11th month, 1829 and this surimono must date from shortly after that: A sort of shini-e – very unusual in surimono form. He wrote the most famous Kabuki ghost story: Yotsuya kaidan, “Yotsuya Ghost Story” (1825) as well as the quick-change play Osome no nanayuki (1813).

 

Fine impression and colour. The poems above printed in gold. Slight soil. Very small restored binding holes at left edge, and slight trimming at bottom. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Reserved

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1785-1865)



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A surimono showing the actors Ichikawa Monnosuke III (right) and Ichikawa Danjuro VII walking in the emado of Asakusa Temple in Edo. This was a pavilion at the Shinto shrine used for displaying votive tablets. This seems to be part of a three or five sheet set showing a continuous procession of Ichikawa actors at the shrine. Provenance: From my Catalogue 15, 1975, no. 67.

 

Fine impression with extensive gold and silver. Fine colour and condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Available

 

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Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825)




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A pupil of Toyoharu, he is best known for his fine actor prints at the end of the 18th century. He had many pupils. A koban surimono showing Ichikawa Danjuro VII in Shibaraku with the voluminous costume and chikara gami “strength papers” sticking up at the back of his wig. Issued for the New Year 1810 (confirmed by the characters hatsu-ushi [“the first year of the ox”] in the first line of the left-hand poem). Interestingly, Danjuro did perform Shibaraku in the play Misao no hana toba koizuka at the Ichimura-za theatre just a couple of months before (11th month, 1809). The role name being Kaneomaru.

 

Very good impression and colour. Minor toning, otherwise very good condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.

 

Status: Available

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786 – 1865)




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The actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII as the medicine peddler in the play Uiro-uri and Ichikawa Danjuro IV in the votive panel above as Kagekiyo in the play of the same name. Both these plays are included in the Kabuki Juhachiban ” Eighteen Favourite Plays” chosen to illustrate the special art of the Danjuro line of actors. The lower half of Kagekiyo’s costume includes the characters “Dragon King” “Ryu-o” suggesting the date 1820. The upper half has the Gogawa hour-glass poetry club symbol.


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



Status: Available

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Utagawa KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)




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Shinba ren Uogashi ren Ichikawa Sansho e kore o okuru. Of the utmost rarity: A large surimono commissioned by the Shinba and Uogashi poetry clubs of Nihonbashi to commemorate the kabuki actor Ichikawa Sansho. Sansho was one of the haigo (poetry name’s) of Ichikawa Danjuro VIII (1823-54). This print was presented to Danjuro in May 1849, and he subsequently went to see his father, Ichikawa Ebizo (Danjuro VII), who had been banished to Osaka, as the red image of Shoki on the nobori represents Ebizo. These banners were flown on the Boy’s Festival (Tango no sekku) on the fifth day of the fifth month outside the homes having male children under the age of seven. The large carp kite was also flown at this time and represents perseverance. This impression has the poems of the Shinba circle. It is also known with poems of the Uogashi club. Another impression is in the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Bidwell collection, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1980, no. 195. This impression is illustrated elsewhere. Also Kuniyoshi, Juzo Suzuki, Heibonsha Ltd, 1992, no 461, and Kuniyoshi, Nikkei Inc. 2011, no 295. An impression has also come up at auction.

 

Fine impression with heavy gold on the top of the banner. Fine colour. Restored wormholes and restoration along the vertical laid lines. Signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi e.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)




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A still life surimono showing a right-eye flounder or flatfish, Karei, and a red bream, kaneme-tai. And small unidentified vegetables. Provenance: A slip from a catalogue on the back indicates that it comes from a Paris sale, probably early 20th century describing it as Limande et dorade. Hokkei is best known for his surimono. He was originally a fishmonger, hence his name Totoya, and also accounts for the number of surimono he designed with fish and shells. Extremely rare.

 

Fine impression and colour with mica on the bream. Minor soil, otherwise very good condition. Signed Hokkei.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A long surimono showing a fan with an image of Ichikawa Danjuro VII as Soga no Goro in the play Yanone, “The Arrow Head.” To the left a fan shape with a poem by Sansho VII (Ichikawa Danjuro VII) and irises. Extremely rare. This impression sold by me in 1997. Issued c 1814. These long surimono were published with the poems attached but were invariably removed by collectors as being a distraction from the image.

 

Very good impression and colour. Minor soil, otherwise good condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga. A name bottom left corner reads Onishi Tokuzo II.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)




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A surimono showing the Japanese Buddhist goddess Benten, as always with her lute, and a monkey and rat holding a scroll showing the short months (2,4,7,9,12) for the Rat year, 1828. Benten (Hindu: Saraswati) originates from India via China. She is also one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. A fukujuso plant in a pot to her right. Poems by Ganjotei Shirataka and Tetsujoan Maori.

 

Very fine impression with extensive silver and gold. Signs of mounting au verso, otherwise very good condition. Fine colour. Signed Hokkei.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1865)




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A complete setsugekka koban surimono-style set of triptychs: Snow, Moon, Flowers. Each triptych shows actors in the snow (from left: Matsumoto Koshiro V; Iwai Kumesaburo II; Ichikawa Danjuro VII); in moonlight (Iwai Shijaku I; Bando Mitsugoro III; Iwai Hanshiro V); and admiring the spring blossoms ( Onoe Kikugoro III; Segawa Kikunojo V; Seki Sanjuro II). Published by Mikawaya Seiemon (who specialised in these koban surimono-style prints) c 1825. Extremely rare. One other complete set is in the Harvard Art Museum, acquisition numbers 206831; 207183; 207139.


 

Very fine impressions. These are not true surimono, although they are listed in some books and catalogues as such. However, they are printed with the same delicacy with beautiful blind-printing. Fine colour. Small nicks out of the corners, otherwise fine condition. Each sheet signed Oju Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold




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Yanagawa SHIGENOBU II (active c 1824-1860)




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A surimono: Sono shichi – Nushi aru hana, “The Flower with an Owner.” Round 7 from a series Hana-awase, “A Flower Competition.” Usually a poetry competition to produce the best poems using different flowers, although in this instance the flowers are actually familiar terms incorporating the word “flower.” A princess holding a helmet, with two others on the ground. Published c late 1820s for the Sugawararen Club. Poems by Kakumu Yamamori, Makinoya Ototaka and Ryuhosha Kiyokaze.


Fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Yanagawa Shigenobu.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850) (Attrib. to.)




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A surimono showing a new year’s throng of musicians, a monkey trainer, a samurai and children with a large kite. Possibly one sheet of a diptych or triptych. A beautiful example of the art of the surimono. Rare.

 

Superb impression. Fine colour with extensive silver, gold and blind-printing.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa TOYOHIRO (1773-1829)




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A surimono showing a mechanical doll with movable eyes and mouth. It holds two puppets of Chinese boys, karako, playing cymbols. These automata, karakuri ningyo, were popular in Edo-period Japan and those made by Takeda Omi were the most famous. The doll stands on a small table with a flowering cherry tree. Issued c 1810s. Rare.

 

Fine impression and colour with extensive gold, silver and burnishing. Fine condition.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yashima GAKUTEI (1786-1868)




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A surimono showing two dancers performing the Sparrow dance, Suzume odori. From a set of six prints forming a hexaptych (this being the top left sheet) for the Katsushika Poetry Club, Katsushika rokubantsuzuki, c 1827-8. The vertical gold bands suggest a birdcage.Illustrated in Surimono, in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Matthi Forrer, 2013, no. 455.

 

Fine impression and colour. Minor soil, otherwise good condition.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A surimono, Watakuri uma, from a series Uma tsukushi, “Horse Series.” The set of at least thirty surimono was issued by the Yomo-gawa Poetry Club for the Horse Year, 1822. The title alludes to the appearance of the watakuri, “cotton gin” usually seen atop a wooden sawhorse-like stand. Also shown is a wooden saddle on a leather base, a smoking set and branches of white plum. Poems by Matsuchi, Kagetsudo and Matsunoya Sononari. Rare.

 

Fine impression and colour with silver, gold and blind-printing. Very good condition. Signed Fusenkyo Iitsu hitsu.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A koban surimono from a kyoka set ( of one hundred ? ) published c. 1805. Shows a kyoka poet with poem by Mikumi Himemari. Seemingly the only large group illustrated is in the Katsushika Hokusai Exhibition from The Peter Morse Collection, Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 1988, no . 167 ( this design on page 106 ). Rare. Ex collection Tony Strauss-Negbaur ( seal au verso ).


Fine impression, colour and condition. Signed Hokusai ga.



Status: Sold

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Anonymous (1821)




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A still life from a set of six prints for the Iwagaki Club: Iwagaki-ren rokuhira no uchi. Shows a tobacco pouch, telescope and snake netsuke (for snake year 1821). There appear to be at least three states of this lovely surimono.


Fine impression and colour with gold and silver on the pouch. Minor rubbing, otherwise very good condition.



Status: Sold

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KINKO




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A surimono of what may be a Japanese bush warbler ( uguisu ), the harbinger of spring, perched on a weeping cherry branch.Three poems below.


Fine impression and colour. Slight signs of mounting au verso, otherwise very good condition. Signed and sealed Kinko. Seal of engraver Shiho Sanshi bottom left.


Status: Sold

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Kikugawa EIZAN (1787-1867)




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A surimono showing a game of rock-paper-scissors, although this might be a variant called Kitsune-ken, with fox-hunter-village chief. The game originates (as so much in Japan) from China and eventually made its way to the west. This was (and is) a dangerous game to play with ladies who entertained as they seldom lost. Published c 1820s. Eizan designed few surimono and this is rare.

 

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

 

Status: Sold

 

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)



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A surimono showing two beauties by the pond at Tsunowazu Kumano Shrine in Yotsuya. The title is: Yotsuya Juniso, referring to the twelve shrines at Tsunowazu in Yotsuya. The poem on the large stone is by Shibanoya and refers to the peacefulness of the place with the willows and water. The other writing directs visitors to the cool of the nearby waterfall and the Unju forrest.

 

Fine impression with silver and gold. Fine colour and condition. Signed on request, Motome ni ojite Hokkei fude.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Kubo SHUMMAN (1757-1820)



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A surimono showing court figures dancing from a series: Shofudai Hisakataya Bunbunsha Tosa Nikki, “The Tosa Diary for the Shofudai, Hisakataya and Bunbunsha Poetry Groups.” Issued late 1810s. For another from this series see: Jewels Of Japanese Printmaking: Surimono Of The Bunka-Bunsei Era 1804-1830, Joan B. Mirviss, Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2000, no. 85, p. 131. Rare: Possibly the only known impression.

 

Fine impression. Very good colour. Lightly backed, otherwise very good condition. Artist’s seal Sho Shumman.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1785-1865)



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A surimono showing Ichikawa Danjuro VII and Bando Mitsugoro III as Soga no Goro and Asahina no Saburo in the armour-pulling (kusazuri-biki) scene from the play Tsukisenzu haru gohiki Soga. Issued 1827. The story relates how Soga no Goro was feasting at a banquet when he learns of a plot to assassinate his brother, Juro. He rushes off to don his armour. Asahina, the liege of his enemy, tries to prevent him by pulling at his armour. Poems by Yukinoya Takane and Hoshitei Masunari. Rare.

 

Fine impression with extensive silver and gold. A gold ground. Fine colour. Some loss of the gold ground as is the case with other known impressions of this surimono. This appears to be the best preserved copy. Very good condition. Signed Oju Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)



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A surimono, Umazakushi, showing a saddle and cotton-gin from Watakuri uma, “A Series of Horses.” Issued for the Yomogawa club, 1822. Shows a horse’s saddle, a cotton-gin, basket of cotton floss and a branch of plum. A smoking set in the foreground. This set followed on from the success of the Shell surimono series issued in 1821. Twenty eight designs are known. The title (in a red gourd) top right is hand-stamped. Rare.

 

Fine impression with silver, gold and blind-printing. Fine colour. Minor soil, otherwise very good condition. Signed Fusenkyo Iitsu hitsu.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yashima GAKUTEI (active 1815-1852)




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A surimono showing a Chinese lady threading a needle on a balcony. First issued in Osaka for the Drum Group, c 1824. This is the excessively rare first edition with the blue sky and clouds; verses by two Osaka poets, and the coloured thread is connected to the spool on the floor. Another genuine impression is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number JP2090. In the second state the verses are replaced by Edo poets. In the third state the blue sky is replaced with a gold ground and there is a hand-stamped title. There are clever copies of this surimono produced in the 1890s. This is possibly the only other genuine impression of the first edition extant.

 

Fine impression and colour with areas of gold. Fine condition. Signed Gakutei Sadaoka hitsu. Ex Hayashi collection, seal bottom right.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Hotei GOSEI (Active c. 1804-1835)




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A surimono showing a still life of fish and utensils from a fine and rare set Toto meisho awase, “Famous Attractions of the Eastern Capital.” The series title in a cartouche in the shape of the character “go” representing the Go-gawa Club. Each surimono shows something related to the location in Edo, in this case the sub-title is Nihonbashi. What the connection is is not obvious to me; perhaps the fish were a delicacy in restaurants which crowded round the bridge. Gosei was a pupil of Hokusai who gave him the name Hokuga which he changed to Gosei around 1810. Published c. 1820. Possibly the only known impression.

 

Very good impression and colour. Some slight soil, otherwise good condition. Signed Gosei hitsu.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa SADAKAGE (active c. 1818-1844)




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A surimono, Kinsei, “Metal” from Gobantsuzuki, “A Set of Five” surimono based on the five elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Shows a woman polishing a metal mirror. Published c. mid-1820s. The set was designed for a group led by the poet Shakuyakutei whose plum-blossom emblem is seen at the top of the title cartouche.

 

Superb impression, colour and condition. Extensive silver and gold. Mint condition. Signed Gokotei Sadakage ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A surimono showing the strong woman of Omi, Okane, stopping a runaway horse from a temple by holding its tether down with her geta. Published for the year of the Horse, 1834.

 

Fine impression and colour. Areas of gold and silver. Some slight crinkling, otherwise very good condition. Signed Kochoro Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yanagawa SHIGENOBU II (active c 1820s-1850s)




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Number one from a surimono series Hana-awase, “A Flower Competition.” Sub-title Takane no hana, “Flowers of the Peak.” A princess turns to her attendant. Published c early 1830s.


Fine impression with touches of gold and silver. Fine colour and condition. Signed Yanagawa Shigenobu.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Katsukawa SHUNTEI (1770-1820)




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A woman playing a koto from the set: Hanagasa-ren Shichifukujin, “Seven Women as the Gods of Good Luck for the Hanagasa Club. Each beauty represents a god, presumably in this case Benten. The series may be a parody of the new year tradition of making a pilgrimage to the seven shrines devoted to each of the Seven Gods of Good Luck. The set of eight prints published c 1820.


Fine impression and colour with silver and gold. Light backing, otherwise very good condition. Signed Shokyuko Shuntei ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yashima GAKUTEI ( 1786-1864 )




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A surimono showing the Chinese warrior Huang Zhong ( Jap: Ko Chu, d. 220 AD ). Best known for his role in the novel Tale of the Three Kingdoms. He is shown wearing tiger skin breeches and armed with a large sword, bow and arrows. From a set Go koshogun, “The Five Tiger Generals.” Title on right Sono yon Ko Chu, “Nr 4 Huang Zhong. “ Issued by the Asakusagawa Poetry Club ( seal top left ) for the Tiger year 1818. Two poems by Shinsokutei Kashimaru ( right ) and Hogetsudo Yukitake ( left ).


Fine impression. Very good colour with extensive gold and silver. Very good condition. Signed Gakutei Harunobu.


Status: Sold

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Yashima GAKUTEI ( 1786-1864 )




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A surimono showing the Chinese warrior Ma Chao ( Jap: Ba Cho, 176-222 AD ). Best known for his role in the novel Tale of the Three Kingdoms. He is shown leaning on a giant axe. From a set Go koshogun, “The Five Tiger Generals.” Title on right Sono go Ba Cho, “Nr 5 Ma Chao. “ Issued by the Asakusagawa Poetry Club ( seal top left ) for the Tiger year 1818. Two poems by Ki no Yoshito ( right ) and Sengetsudo ( left ).


Fine impression. Very good colour with extensive gold and silver. Very good condition. Signed Gakutei Harunobu.


Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI ( 1760-1849 )




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A surimono showing two young girls making new year envelopes. On the side screen is a view of Fuji. Three poems above. Published c 1806.


Fine impression and colour. Small strengthened area au verso, otherwise very good condition. Signed Hokusai ga.


Status: Sold

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Yashima GAKUTEI ( 1780-c 1869 )




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A surimono showing the nine-tailed fox ( Tamamo-no-mae ) and the warrior Miuranosuke who was a palace guard in the court of Emperor Konoe ( 1139-1155 ). Issued c 1826 for a sub-group of the Biwa-ren poetry circle ( emblem top right ) headed by Benbenkan. Poems by Bentandai Gihoshi, Bendendai Kazumasu , Bensusha Masago, Bensusha Mazukage Masago, Andaro Horikawa Soroku and Kofukutei Okada Minoru. Legend tells that the Emperor’s adversary – an evil fox – disguised itself into a beauty who captivated the Emperor. She was eventually revealed and killed by Miuranosuke with an arrow from his bow.


Extremely fine impression with embossing and metallic pigments. Very fine colour and condition. Signed Gakutei with seal Shugyokudo.


Status: Sold

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Harukawa GOSHICHI ( 1776-1831 )




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A rare Edo artist and poet who moved to Kyoto in the late 1810s. This Osaka surimono is extremely subtle showing a moon printed in silver amongst clouds and slanting rain. The artist was active c 1810s-1820s. The seal bottom right is of Tani Seiko – the leading Osaka carver and printer during the 1820s and 1830s. ( There appears to have been a close association between Seiko and Goshichi as he cut and printed other surimono of his. )


Fine impression and colour. Light backing, otherwise good condition. Signed Harukawa Goshichi hitsu with seals Kamiya.


Status: Sold

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Ryuryukyo SHINSAI ( 1764-1820s )




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A rare surimono showing a carp and water-weeds. The carp was a symbol of achievement against adversity in Japan and had a connotation with the new year. Issued c 1822.


Very good impression with the water blind-printed. Some loss of gold. Very good condition. Signed Shinsai.


Status: Sold

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Yashima GAKUTEI ( 1790-1869 )




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A rare chuban yoko-e surimono from a series Kinki shoga or the Four Accomplishments. These pursuits were popular amongst Chinese and Japanese literati: Playing a musical instrument; playing go; calligraphy, and ( as here ) painting. The composition shows a Heian courtier and two court ladies admiring a painting. A poem by Mado no Muratake ( whose pupils probably commissioned this set ) gives his age as 74, and since he died in 1824 at 82, the surimono must have been issued in 1816.


Fine impression and colour. Minimal edge soil, otherwise fine condition. Signed Gakutei Harunobu.


Status: Sold

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UNSIGNED




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A ( possibly unique ) new year surimono showing a geisha leaving the Bandaikan, a bathhouse called Bandai, “Eternity.” She is biting on a hand towel which had sexual connotations – the anticipation of a sexual encounter perhaps. This surimono is attributed to Yanagawa Shigenobu ( 1787-1833 ). Issued c 1820.


Very fine impression, colour and condition. Extensive use of silver.


Status: Sold

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Yanagawa SHIGENOBU II ( active 1824-1860 )




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A sumptuously attired princess admiring two bonsai trees. ( Her rank is determined by the elaborate tsuzumi [ hand drum ] hair ornament. ) Number six from a set Hana awase, “A Flower Competition.” This title usually referred to a poetry contest in which teams competed to produce the best poems about different flowers, although in this case the “flowers” were terms in common usage. Issued c 1834. A pupil of Shigenobu, he assumed his teacher’s name in the Spring of 1833 after he died.


Very fine impression, colour and condition. Extensive use of gold and silver. Signed Yanagawa Shigenobu with seal Yanagawa.


Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A surimono showing a bamboo-ware maker. One of the characters from Taketori monogatari, “Tale of the Shining Princess.” He is shown sawing through a large bamboo stem surrounded by his tools. Behind him an uguisu ( bush warbler, signifying the arrival of spring ) sits on a bamboo vase. Two poems above by Bunyusha Harusato and Bunbunsha. Provenance: From my Surimono Prints catalogue, no. 15, 1975, no. 6.


Very fine impression. Fine colour. The saw blade, chisel and other areas printed in silver. The outline of the craftsman’s trousers printed in gold. Very good condition. Signed Katsushika Taito ( signature of c 1819 ).


Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1865)




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An extremely rare surimono: I have only seen one other impression and that was one I purchased around 20 years ago. Shows the most famous playwright of his age – Tsuruya Nanboku IV ( 1755 – 1829 ). His crest is clearly visible on his shoulders. He died on the 27th of the 11th month, 1829 and this surimono dates from shortly after that. This appears to be a sort of shini-e – very unusual in surimono form. He wrote the most famous Kabuki ghost story: Yotsuya kaidan, “Yotsuya Ghost Story” ( 1825 ) as well as the quick-change play Osome no nanayuki ( 1813 ).


Very good impression. Some creasing along laid lines and small restoration at top edge. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.


Status: Sold

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Shibata ZESHIN (1807-1891)




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A rare surimono showing a family going kite flying. The man carrying a huge example on his back.

Very good impression and colour. Minor soil, otherwise good condition. Signed Zeshin with seal.

Status: Sold

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