various artists (early <i>shin hanga</i>)

various artists (early shin hanga)

Pictures of Celebrated Places in Osaka and Kobe: Set of Thirty Woodblock Prints by Five Artists
(Hanshin Meisho zue: Zen)

complete set of thirty prints in green folio with title slip, Hanshin Meisho Zue; with frontispiece map and table of contents identifying the artists and the titles of each print, block carver Okura Hanbei II (d. 1925), printer Nishimura Kumakichi II, publisher Bun'endo (Kanao Tanejiro), and dated Taisho gonen, aki, jugatsu (Taisho 5 [1916], autumn, October), released starting in May 1917

each approximately 14 by 9 3/8 in., 35.7 by 24.9 cm

This collaborative series features scenes in and around the area of Osaka and Kobe (Hanshin). The prints were designed by five artists who at the time of production were illustrators for the Osaka Asahi Shinbun newspaper:

Noda Kyuho (1879-1971)
Akamatsu Rinsaku (1878-1953)
Mizushima Nihofu (1884-1958)
Hata Tsuneharu (1883-?)
Nagai Hyosai (1882-1945)

Each print is signed and/or sealed by the artist, with publication details on the lower left corner with the series title, the number the design is in the series, the print subject, the artist's name, the publisher Bun'endo, the printer Nishimura, and the carver Okura. The series appears to have been issued in two formats: as a set of thirty prints accompanied by a title page with a map and a table of contents; and initially in groups of five presented within six folders bearing a small printed landscape pasted to the cover (at least three of which were designed by Akamatsu Rinsaku, a lifelong friend of the publisher). Complete sets mounted in albums survive intact in the collection of The British Museum and the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art (from the Pulverer Collection). The Pulverer set incluldes an English translation of the table of contents as indicated on the map, starting at Owada on the shore and proceeding clockwise around the region.

1. Owada by Noda Kyuho
2. Amagasaki by Akamatsu Rinsaku
3. Mukogawa by Mizushima Nihofu
4. Imazu by Hata Tsuneharu
5. Nishinomiya by Nagai Hyosai
6. Kabutoyama by Mizushima Nihofu
7. Koro-en by Hata Tsuneharu
8. Ashiya by Noda Kyuho
9. Uozaki by Hata Tsuneharu
10. Sumiyoshi by Akamatsu Rinsaku
11. Mikage by Nagai Hyosai
12. Oishi by Mizushima Nihofu
13. Sannomiya by Noda Kyuho
14. Kobe Wharf by Akamatsu Rinsaku
15. Kobe, Nankin-machi by Hata Tsuneharu
16. Aotani by Noda Kyuho
17. Mayasan by Mizushima Nihofu
18. Rokkozan by Akamatsu Rinsaku
19. Rokkozan by Hata Tsuneharu
20. Karato by Nagai Hyosai
21. Arima by Nagai Hyosai
22. Sanda by Noda Kyuho
23. Takedao by Mizushima Nihofu
24. Nashio by Akamatsu Rinsaku
25. Takarazuka by Hata Tsuneharu
26. Nakayama by Akamatsu Rinsaku
27. Hibari-ga-oka by Mizushima Nihofu
28. Itami by Nagai Hyosai
29. Nose by Noda Kyuho
30. Inagawa by Nagai Hyosai

Although very scarce (individually or as a set), these prints are frequently referenced by scholars and widely regarded as among the earliest examples of shin hanga landscapes. C.H. Mitchell states that "in fact the Hanshin prints appear to be the very first of all shin hanga landscapes." And Jack Hillier concurs that although Watanabe Shozaburo is the publisher generally credited with the introduction of shin hanga landscape prints, this set published by Kanao Tanejiro predates "the first of the Watanabe landscape prints." Presumably both Mitchell and Hillier are refering to Ito Shinsui's earliest landscape prints, however, one could debate that assertion depending on how one identifies the defining characterstics of shin hanga- a term which was not even in use at that time. Hillier also notes that the five artists that contributed to the series seemed less influenced by early Japanese print artists than by "western masters who adopted the Japanese techniques of print-making - for instance, Henri Riviere or P.A. Isaac in France." While Helen Merritt aligns the fluid brushwork captured in the prints with that of the Maruyama-Shijo painterly tradition.

The publisher Tanejiro was a native of Osaka, hence his interest in the locale, while his firm Bun'endo was located in Tokyo. Like Watanabe, Bun'endo was destroyed in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake on September 1, 1923. Unlike Watanabe, Tanejiro did not rebuild in Tokyo, but restablished his business Osaka.

C. H. Mitchell, "Hanshin Meisho Zue: A Little-Known Early Shin Hanga Series," in Matthi Forrer, ed., Essays on Japanese Art Presented to Jack Hillier, 1982, pp. 118-24
Scott Johnson, Andon 37, "Sketch-tour books and prints of the early twentieth century," 1990, pp. 3-33
Jack Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, 1987, Vol. II, p. 1005-1008, illus. no. 666 (print no. 15, Kobe, Nankin-machi by Hata Tsuneharu), & p. 1007, color pl. 203 (print no. 10, Sumiyoshi by Akamatsu Rinsaku)
Helen Merritt, Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years, 1990, pp. 33-35 (print no. 1, print no. 1, Owada by Noda Kyuho; and print no. 3, Mukogawa by Mizushima Nihofu)
Lawrence Smith, Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989: Woodblocks and Stencils, 1994, p. 32, cat. no. 4, color pl. 3 (print no. 1, Owada by Noda Kyuho)
Nihon No Hanga II: Kizamareta "kojin" no kyoen, 1999, p. 128, nos. 266-1 (print no. 19, Arima by Nagai Hyosai) & 266-2 (print no. 27, Hibari-ga-oka by Mizushima Nihofu)
Amy Reigle Newland, gen. ed., Printed to Perfection: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 2004, p. 25, Fig. 7 (print no. 14, Kobe Warf by Akamatsu Rinsaku)
Chris Uhlenbeck, Maureen de Vries & Elise Wessels, Ode to the Countryside, 2010, pp. 20-22, no. 14 (print no. 10, Sumiyoshi, by Akamatsu Rinsaku) & no. 15 (print no. 18, Rokkozan by Akamatsu Rinsaku)
Chris Uhlenbeck, Maureen de Vries & Elise Wessels, The Kansai View, 2013, p. 21, no. 14 (print no. 14, Kobe Warf by Akamatsu Rinsaku), & no. 15 (print. no. 15, Kobe Market by Hata Tsuneharu)
The British Museum, accession no. 1991,0805,0.22 (complete set in album format)
Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, Pulverer Collection, accession number FSC-GR-780.920 (complete set in album format)

(inv. no. 10-5193)

price: $15,000 (reserved)

 various artists (early <i>shin hanga</i>)
English titles accompanying Pulverer set, Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, accession no. FSC-GR-780.920


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