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Ryuryukyo SHINSAI (1764[?]-1823)




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An early pupil of Hokusai who is best known for his fine surimono, but also produced a series of semi-western style landscapes and some paintings. A still life showing a group of pouches, one revealing a lacquered surface with a stylised dragon. Dragon year was 1808 and 1820. Extremely rare. Ex Beres collection, seal au verso.

 

 

Fine impression with extensive silver and burnishing. Fine colour. Very good condition. Signed Shinsai.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)




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A surimono showing an unidentified fish – possibly a flying fish and carnations. An apparently unrecorded surimono. A pupil of Hokusai, Hokkei’s oeuvre was almost entirely in this genre, apart from illustrating ehon.

 

 

Very good impression and colour. Slight crease, otherwise very good condition. Signed Hokkei.

 

 

Status: Sold

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Totoya HOKKEI (1780-1850)



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An uncut large surimono with the poems attached showing a rustic bridge in a country setting. Geese flying above. Published c 1810s. Provenance: Ex Samuel Tuke collection, seal centre left. Tuke was a member of the Japan Society of London and many of his prints went to the British Museum, while others were sold at Sothebys in 1911. Rare.

 

Very good impression, colour and condition. Signed Totoya Hokkei ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI II (1777-1835)



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A surimono showing a bust portrait of the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII as Kanawa no Goro, a retainer of Kamatari no Fujiwara, disguised as the fisherman Fukashichi from the Mikasayama Goten scene in Act 4 of Imoseyama onna teikino. Three poems by Shoshokyo Otokado, Sakuragawa Jihinari, and Sakuragawa Omokage. Issued c mid-1820s. Provenance: originally purchased from me in 1977 (see my catalogue 20, 1977, no. 38). Unidentified collector’s seal au verso. Rare.

 

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

 

Status: Sold

 

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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769-1825)



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A surimono in the form of an ema (literally “picture-horse”) which were votive tablets left at Shinto shrines. The upper right plaque shows an actor in Shibaraku role with characters reading ganshu (temple petitioner) Bunri. Below, ten poems by poets from Edo, Kyoto and Osaka. The poem below the actor is signed Shikan which was the stage name and literary name of Nakamura Shikan I (Utaemon III, 1778-1838) who is most likely the actor portrayed. The text on the top left panel begins with San kudari indicating the 3rd came back, suggesting a return by Utaemon to Edo from acting in Kyoto or Osaka. Issued c 1810s. Very rare.

 

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

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yashima GAKUTEI (1786-1868)



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A surimono – one of a series that Gakutei designed in the curved shape of a folding fan. Shows a seated poet before Mt. Fuji holding a fan and dressed in courtly robes with a New Year pattern of pine trees and an eboshi cap. Two others from the set are illustrated in The Art of Surimono, Roger Keyes, Sothebys, 1985, pl. 47, p. 89; and Sammeln Magazin, Nr. 6, Juni 1985, p.15. Issued c. 1821. Provenance: Ex Toni Strauss Negbaur collection, seal au verso.

 

Fine impression with Mount Fuji blind-printed. Very good colour and condition. Signed Gakutei.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Katsukawa SHUNTEI (1770-1820)




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A surimono, number two, from a set of three entitled Buyu sanban tsuzuki, “Three Examples of Martial Bravery.” Shows Minamoto no Tametomo (1139-1170). A famed archer and of huge stature, he is shown here with his bow and arrows being offered a coral tree from a representative of a conquered land. Shuntei, a pupil of Katsukawa Shun’ei, produced a number of surimono as well as working in other genres. Issued for the Taikogawa Poetry Club, c late 1810s. Poems above by Wajotei Harunaga and Kasentei. The other two from the set are in the MFA Boston, 53.2733 (the first) and 53.2735 (the third). Another impression of this design is also in MFA Boston, 53.2734. Ex collection Louis Gonse, seal au verso. Rare.

 

 

Fine impression and colour with extensive gold and silver. Fine condition. Signed Shokyuko Shuntei ga.

 

 

Status: Sold

 

 

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Utagawa SADAKAGE (Act. c 1818-1844)




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A surimono showing a courtesan and her acolyte playing a Hyakunin Isshu version of uta-garuta, a card game where a hundred poets are matched to a hundred poems. Karasaki: Night rain on a festival day from a set of surimono Kuruwa hakkei, “Eight Views in the Licensed District [the Yoshiwara].” The Eight Views theme , which came from China, was embraced by ukiyo-e, firstly depicting landscape views but then extended to cover accomplishments or moments of the day, usually associated with fashionable beauties. The set issued by the Biwaren Poetry Club in 1832. Their stylised symbol – the biwa – appears in the border.

 

 

Very fine impression and colour with gold, silver and blind-printing. Very slight crease, otherwise fine condition. Signed Gokotei Sadakage. Rare.

 

 

Status: Sold

 

 

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Yashima GAKUTEI (1786-1868)




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A surimono with title Kiyomihara no Oji, “The Kiyomihara Prince” from a set based on the Uji Shui Monogatari, “Tales Gleaned from the Uji Councillor,” this being Minamoto no Takakuni (1004-77). This episode from chapter 15 relates how the succession to the Emperor Tenji, who had died, is disputed between Prince Oama (the former emperor’s younger brother) and Prince Otomo (the former emperor’s son by a low-ranking woman). Oama, fearing an attack, escapes. Coming to the Sunomata Crossing in Mino Province he is unable to cross the river. A local woman tells him all boats have been confiscated by Prince Otomo. To escape detection she agrees to hide him under a bucket. Evading arrest he asks her to recruit an army of local men, which she does and they go on to defeat Prince Otomo. The woman was said to be the god of Fuwa. Rare.

 

 

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

 

 

Status: Sold

 

 

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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: 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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Honda UNRIN (Active c. late Edo period)




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A surimono of a male and female red-crowned crane (aka Manchurian crane). Behind a huge setting sun. The crane represents good fortune, longevity and fidelity in Japan and is a popular subject for surimono. Unrin, a Nanga/Shijo artist, was a pupil of Tetsuo (1791-1871). Issued c. 1840s.

 

 

Fine impression with the birds outlines and plumage beautifully blind-printed. Very good colour. Minimal soil, otherwise very good condition. Signed and sealed Unrin.

 

 

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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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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Kaiba, Sea Horses, from a series of at least thirty surimono issued for the Yomo-gawa poetry group. Uma zukushi, “Horse Series” was commissioned for the Horse Year 1822 and each design alludes to the word horse. Here the dried sea horses are shown lying in a gold-lacquer folder beside a black-lacquer box containing a pair of beetles ( with connotations of potency ). This set, together with the “Shell Series” issued the previous year, is Hokusai’s most important set. A red hand-stamped title cartouche top right. Unidentified collector’s seal au verso. Rare.


Very fine impression and colour with gauffrage, silver, gold and bronze. Very slight discolouration to the yellow ground, otherwise very good condition. Signed Fusenkyo Iitsu hitsu.


Status: Sold

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Ryuryukyo SHINSAI (1764 ?-1820)




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A rare surimono showing a red bream, sea urchin, cuttle-fish, various other molluscs and two unidentified fish with seaweed. Issued c 1810s.


Fine impression with gauffrage. Fine colour and very good condition. Signed Shinsai.


Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760-1849)




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A fine long surimono with poems attached showing horsetails, fern fronds and kuzu ( arrowroot ) lying in and around a lady’s travelling hat with silk cushion and the two red cords for tying. Of the utmost rarity: other impressions in TNMC, no. 3708 ( without poems ? ); Matthi Forrer, Hokusai, no. 67, p. 64 ( with poems ); Surimono: Prints by Elbow, Edythe Polster and Alfred Marks, 1979, Lovejoy Press, F-D 1933-4-2680, p. 267, ( without poems ? ). But miscatalogued as a bowl with green vine and plants. Ex Hayashi; and evidently an impression in the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Jingumae, Tokyo. There is also a Hokusai square surimono of the same subject illustrated in The Art of Surimono, Roger Keyes, 198, p. 226. Issued 1801. A beautiful print.


Fine impression. Very good colour. Minor marks. The inevitable folds hardly discernable: These surimono were folded three times, once horizontally and twice vertically to form a neat packet. The facing text ( announcement or poems ) were an irritation to many early collectors and were trimmed off, making this example even rarer. Otherwise very good condition. Signed Gakojin Hokusai utsushi.


Status: Sold




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Teisai HOKUBA (1771-1844)




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Three courtesans watching clients leaving in light rain. One of Hokusai’s best pupils; a fine painter and illustrator of kyoka books.


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



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1865)




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The actor Bando Mitsugoro III as Washi no Osaburo disguised as Yamagatsu Kumao in Kawaranu hana Genji no kaomise performed at the Ichikawa Theatre in 11/1827. The left sheet of a surimono triptych probably issued for the new year of 1828. The complete set is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London ( E.3909-1916 ). A variant of the Kabujki play Seki no to in which two actors battle with giant axes.


Fine impression with gold and silver. Slight fading, otherwise very good condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786-1864)




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A fine surimono showing the actor Danjuro VII casting roasted beans from a tray he holds in his left hand. This ritual called setsubun, “end of winter” was performed in the precincts of temples in the Spring (although now takes place in February). He wears the well known Shibaraku costume with the large mimasu crests. Two poems above by Shiseido Sutena and Hoichitei Masunari. The latter being a member of the Taiko-ren, Drum poetry club. Their symbol top right corner. Issued c 1822. Illustrated in colour on the front cover of Art of the Surimono, Theodore Bowie, Indiana University Art Museum, 1979. Rare.

 

Superb impression with extensive gold and silver. Perfect colour. Light Japanese backing and slightly trimmed at left. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.

 

Status: Sold

 

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Yanagawa SHIGENOBU II (Active 1824 – 1860)




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San konoshitakage, “Number Three: In the Shade of a Tree” from a set: Meiba zoroe, “Famous Horses.” Shows a beauty sheltering from rain. Published for the Horse Year 1834.


Fine impression. Very good colour and condition. Signed Nisei Yanagawa Shigenobu



Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760 – 1849)




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Kinutagai, “The Fulling Block Shell” from the series: Genroku Kasen kaiawase, “A Matching Game with the Genroku Poem Shells.” ( An anthology published in 1689. ) A collection of verses with pictures designed by Hokusai printed on 36 sheets. Commissioned by the Yomogawa poetry group for the New Year 1821, Year of the Snake. Shows two women at a fulling block beating down scrap paper to pulp to remake into sheets. In the background a boy is stirring the pulp in a basket in a stream. One of the two best known Hokusai surimono sets. Rare.


Fine impression, very good colour with gold and silver. Minor marks and signs of mounting au verso, otherwise very good condition. Signed Getchirojin I itsu hitsu, “Moonstruck Old Man, Iitsu.”



Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUSAI (1760 – 1849)




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Sakuragai, “The Cherry Blossom Shell” from the series: Genroku Kasen kaiawase, “A Matching Game with the Genroku Poem Shells.” ( An anthology published in 1689. ) A collection of verses with pictures designed by Hokusai printed on 36 sheets. Commissioned by the Yomogawa poetry group for the New Year 1821, Year of the Snake. Shows travellers on the way to Narita Fudo, the Shinshoji at Naritasan. One of the two best known Hokusai surimono sets. Rare.


Fine impression and colour with gold and silver. Minor marks, otherwise fine condition. Signed Getchirojin I itsu hitsu, “Moonstruck Old Man, Iitsu.”



Status: Sold

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Katsushika HOKUTAI (Act. c. 1800 – 1830)




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A long surimono by an early pupil of Hokusai. Most likely an invitation to a New Year musical event at Shinagawa ( ? ). Shows three musicians playing samisen, koto and kokyu ( ? ). Probably a unique impression. An Eisai Hokutai was the artist for a book: Tokaeri-bana in 1809. This appears to be the same artist.


Fine impression with gauffrage. Fine colour. Signs, as usual, of the foldmarks on the invitation: These invites were folded three times – once horizontally and twice vertically to form a neat packet. Otherwise very good condition. Signed Shinshinshi Hokutai.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786 – 1865)




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Ichikawa Danjuro VII as Urashima Taro, seated with his fishing rod and the black box behind him that contains his old age. Urashima Taro saved a giant tortoise and was rewarded by a visit to the Dragon King’s palace beneath the sea by the Dragon’s daughter Otohime. Published for the Taiko-gawa poetry group ( red drum seal top right ) in 1820.


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



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786 – 1865)




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Ichikawa Danjuro VII ( crouching below ) as Konoshita Tokichi and Segawa Kikunojo V as Princess Otohime. This does not illustrate a particular play, but was obviously intended for the year 1820 as Otohime was the daughter of the Dragon King ( 1820 being a dragon year ).


Fine impression. Very good colour. Extensive gold and silver. Fine condition. Signed Gototei Kunisada ga.



Status: Sold

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Utagawa KUNISADA (1786 – 1865)




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Two sheets ( of three ) showing the actor Ichikawa Danjuro VII ( left ) in the role of Minamoto Yorimasa holding a firebrand to better see the giant Nue and Bando Mitsugoro III as Tametomo with his giant bow. The complete set is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. It appears to be a mitate as these three actors did not act together. The dragon-patterned border indicates the dragon year 1820. The bright blue grounds make for striking compositions.


Very fine impressions. Some slight loss of metallic powders, otherwise very good condition. Signed Kunisada ga on each.



Status: Sold




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Shibata ZESHIN (1807 – 1891), Ikeda TAISHIN and SUISHIN




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A complete set of the four seasons in shijo style: Spring showing cherry blossom viewing signed Taishin; Summer is a still life of theatre props signed Zeshin; Autumn shows people moon viewing signed Suishin, and Winter shows a woman tentatively lifting a bamboo screen on a snow-bound boat signed Zeshin. Extremely rare: This is the only set I have recorded and came from me in the 1980s. The prints were originally folded and would have been sold in paper slip cases ( hence the slight vertical folds ). Although not strictly surimono, they probably served a similar purpose. Each 6.5 x 5.75 inches, 16.5 x 14.5 cms. Taishin and Suishin were pupils of Zeshin and the former was a life long friend of his until his death.


Very good impressions, colour and condition. Signed Zeshin, Taishin and Suishin.



Status: Sold




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Utagawa TOYOKUNI I (1769 – 1825)




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A wonderful design showing the actor Ichikawa Ebizo VI ( Danjuro VIII ) holding a large umbrella with his face reflected in a mirror held by an acolyte. Two poems above by Sakuragawa Jihinari and Jihinari’s son Oya no Omokage. In fact these two writers also composed poems for two other Toyokuni surimono of Danjuro around the same date, c. early 1820s. ( See The Art of Surimono, Roger Keyes, 1985, no. 348, p. 400 and One Hundred Surimono in the collection of Sidney C. Ward, 1976, no. 50, p. 62. ) Extremely rare.


Fine impression. Minor creasing and turning of purple, otherwise very good colour and condition. Signed Toyokuni ga.



Status: Sold

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