Kubo SHUNMAN (1757 – 1820)




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A superb surimono showing a group of five cranes on a split of sand. The tancho ( “red crest” ) Japanese Crane, Grus japonensis, is the second rarest crane in the world, migrating to East Asia in the fall to spend the winter. There is also a resident flock in Hokkaido. Much loved by the Japanese, the crane was a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity.One of a set of six surimono with title: San hira no uchi, “Three Petals” written on a poem slip hanging from a plum branch, top left. Probably Shunman’s masterpiece in this format and one of the handful of great surimono. Exceptionally rare: I have not seen another for sale since I started dealing over 40 years ago and this may well be the only available impression extant. An example is in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. See The Art of Surimono, Roger Keyes, Sothebys, 1985, no. 318, p. 363 and colour, p. 344. Another is in the Tokyo National Museum, catalogue II, no. 1654. There are two states with the last character of poem changed. ( For an example of this other state see Surimono, Charlotte van Rappard-Boon, no. 16, p. 33. ) Issued 1816. Shunman, a man of great sophistication, designed only a few prints before concentrating on surimono and printing and issuing some of the finest in this format. ( See The Japanese Print A New Approach, J. Hillier, pp. 102 – 104: “Probably no artist except Choki has achieved so high a reputation on such a small number of prints.” ) He also excelled at painting, book illustration and light verse.


Very fine impression with the feathers of the cranes deeply gauffraged. Fine colour with gold and silver. Minor marks and creases. Seal Shunman lower right corner.



Status: Sold

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