Taki Shuho, active ca. 1930s
Album of Contemporary Beauties: Clear Eyes
(Kindai Reijin Gafu)
in original protective folder with washi cover; signed Shuho with artist's seal (possibly) Jindo, with publisher's information on the left-hand margin, Nichigetsu Shoin zo han (publisher Nichigetsu Shoin) hori Morien (carver Moriei) suri Nakai (printer Nakai), ca. 1936
dai oban tate-e 16 1/2 by 11 3/4 in., 42 by 30 cm
This print is from a set of four woodblock prints published by Nichigetsu Shoin of Osaka in 1936. The original set was issued in a cloth covered box with each print tipped in along the top edge to a rigid cloth-covered board with the front protected by a sheet of semi-translucent washi paper which was attached along the right-hand edge.
The publisher also produced a large string-bound pamphlet (printed on thick hosho paper) in English (and Japanese on the back cover and colophon) which included a short article on Shuho's life and influences written by the artist Ishimoto Gyoko. According to Gyoko, Shuho was from the Shimane Prefecture, and ran away at the age of 13 in order to ask to become a student of Kaburagi Kiyokata (sleeping on Kiyokata's doorstep the first night). Although initially his parents refused permission and took him home, eventually he was able to join first the Kawabata School of Painting at Kasugacho, Koishikawa, and later the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. At the age of 21 he was forced to end his studies (due to family troubles), but was fortunate to find support and a place to live in residence of the Marquis Nakahiro Ikeda (1877-1948), a patron of the arts who was the 14th head of the Ikeda clan and associated with Emperor Taisho. Shuho worked at a newspaper in Tokyo, and then quit in order to go to Korea to travel and paint. When he returned to Japan he settled first in Kyoto, and then in Osaka.
In a second section apparently written by the publisher there is an explanation of the purpose of the series, which could be read as a description of shin hanga (particularly bijinga) itself: "To portray thus, modern Miss Nippon with the brush of a Tokugawa artist is impossible, and could only be insincere. Fresh handling and treatment are her due, and yet not forgetting that hers is the heritage- whether she knows it or not- of her charming predecessors of a romantic feudal age. And Shuho Taki has succeeded most admirably in penetrating the essential spirit of the present age and yet retaining the distinctive afterglow of the past."
Following the introduction each print was presented on its own page and illustrated with a small black and white tipped in lithograph with text by Shuho describing his inspiration for the subject. For this print Shuho's comment is comparatively brief: "Clear Eyes... In this study of the nude I wished to represent the soft lines and coloring of the modern conception of Japanese beauty, especially the intelligent and clear eyes."
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