Ito Shinsui Hand Mirror

Ito Shinsui Hand Mirror detail

Ito Shinsui Hand Mirror detail

Ito Shinsui, 1898-1972

The First Collection of Modern Beauties: Hand Mirror
(Gendai bijin shu dai isshu: Tekagami)

embellished with mica highlights on her obi and the mirror, signed and dated Showa rokunen ichigatsu ganjitsu Shinsui ga (Showa 6 [1931], January, New Year's Day, by Shinsui), with artist's seal Shinsui, publisher's seal Watanabe, and hand-numbered limited edition seal on verso, Nihyakugoju mai zeppan, dai hyaku-yonju-roku ban (250 limited edition, number 146), followed by publisher's rectangular seal, Watanabe, 1931

dai oban tate-e 17 1/8 by 11 in., 43.5 by 28 cm

A maiko (teenage apprentice geisha) pauses to check her hair ornaments in her compact mirror, the reflective surface printed with mica. She wears a deep blue kimono decorated with a scattering of stylized cherry blossoms. Her lustrous obi is highlighted with mica, the stiff fabric is tied in an angular knot with panels that show a playful motif including the face of a yakkodako (figure-shaped kite), an archery target with stylized arrow, and the top edge of a hagoita (wooden paddle used in a game called hanetsuki (similar to badminton). Kite flying (tako-age), hanetsuki, and archery (kyudo) are all activities associated with New Year's celebrations (in 1655, after a craze in kite-flying led to a rash of accidents with people falling off roofs, the shogunate banned kite flying except during the New Year), quite appropriate for a print dated New Year's Day.

Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 95, no. 58
Amy Reigle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, 2000, p. 67, no. 62
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, 2015, p. 124, cat. no. 75


verso seal numbered 146/250


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(212) 585-0474 or email
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site last updated
October 28, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475