Twelve Images of Modern Beauties: Cotton Kimono, Ito Shinsui

Ito Shinsui, 1898-1972

Twelve Images of Modern Beauties: Cotton Kimono
(Shin bijin junisugata: Yukata)

dated and signed at upper left, Taisho juichinen shoka, Shinsui (Taisho 11 [1922], early spring, Shinsui) with artist's red rectangular seal Ito; the round publisher's seal, Watanabe, at lower left corner; with hand-numbered limited edition seal verso, Nihyaku mai kagiri zeppan, dai ichi-shi-ku ban (200 limited edition, number 149), 1922

dai oban tate-e 17 1/8 by 10 1/2 in., 43.5 by 26.6 cm

The publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) began producing woodblock prints by Ito Shinsui when Shinsui was a still a student of Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972) in 1916. It was only in February of the same year that Watanabe had finally released his first large-scale bijin-ga with Hashiguchi Goyo (1880-1921), a painstaking process which had taken ten months to complete. In the summer of 1922, Watanabe and Shinsui began production on this series, Twelve Figures of Modern Beauties (also translated as Twelve Images of Modern Beauties). Although they had already completed thirty prints together by that time, many were chuban-sized landscapes, and only six were bijin-ga.

The series was issued from June 1922 in editions of 200, with one print released per month and distributed by the Ukiyo-e Kenkyukai (Association of Ukiyo-e Research). The first large bijin-ga series of shin-hanga, it was meant to capture a 'new' beauty, but that didn't necessarily mean modern. Like the shin-hanga genre itself, the 'new beauty' was rooted in the traditional beauty (with customary clothes), but the variety of printing styles and techniques were modern.

Kato, Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. 1, pl. 183
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 60, pl. 34
Smith, Lawrence, Modern Japanese Prints, 1912-1989, 1994, cat. 35, pl. 34
Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The female image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, p. 54, pl. 32
Nihon no hanga III 1921-1930, Toshi to onna to hikari to kage to (Japanese Prints III, 1921-1930: Cities and Women, Lights and Shadows), Chiba City Museum of Art, 2001, p. 36, pl. 2-3


verso seal

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