Ito Shinsui


Dawn at Akashi
(Akashi no akatsuki)

signed and dated at upper right, Taisho go-nen juni-gatsu niju-nichi (Taisho 5 [1916], December 20th), Shinshui, with red artist's mark, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, 1916

oban yoko-e 10 1/4 by 15 in., 25.9 by 38 cm

Shinsui began producing woodblock prints with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) when he was still just a student of Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972) in 1916. In his early prints published by Watanabe, Shinsui produced both landscapes and bijinga, but it was his landscapes that inspired Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) to pursue a career as a print artist. After Watanabe was able to add Hasui to his circle as his primary landscape artist, it seems Shinsui, already recognized for his depictions of women, became more defined as a bijinga artist, and produced few subsequent landscapes until the late 1930s.

The relatively simple landscape with subtle gradations of color and emphasis on textures in the areas with stonework acheived by utilizing baren-sujizuri is demonstrative of the creative collaboration of artist, publisher, carver and printer. With the exception of the first print he published with Watanabe, which was based on a painting, in the early years Shinsui worked in the old style of print production, submitting a hanashita-e (preparatory drawing) or sketch which was used to make a keyblock. In the introduction to the catalogue raisonne, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, Watanabe Shozaburu's son, Tadasu, describes the cooperation between artist and publisher, recounting how Shinsui was eager to utilize printing techniques to bring out his design, and Watanabe's role of pushing the printers to improve the prints with their own skills (pp. 6-11).

This scarce print is one of Shinsui's earliest efforts, his third woodblock print and first landscape produced in that first year of collaboration with Watanabe.

Hamada Taiji and Hosono Masanobu, Ito Shinsui zenshu, 1981-1982, volume 6, color plate no. 10
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 22, pp. 6-11; p. 22, no. 3
Amy Reigle Stephens, gen. ed., The New Wave: Twentieth-Century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 180, no. 228
Nihon no hanga II 1911-1920, Kizamareta 'kojin' no kyoen (Japanese Prints II, 1911-1920: A 'carved' private banquet), Chiba City Museum of Art, 1999, p. 111, no. 220
Honolulu Museum of Art (, source id. 3502
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (, accession no. 67.858

(inv. no. 10-5778)

price: $6,800 (reserved)


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