dated and signed in sumi ink at upper left, Taisho rokunen nigatsu (Taisho 6  second month), Shinsui, followed by the artist's seal Shinsui, with limited edition seal on verso partially visible, Surisatsu ippyaku mai gen no uchi, dai ... ban (100 limited edition, number..), published by Watanabe Shozaburo, February 1917
19 7/8 by 10 in., 50.5 by 25.5 cm
Ito Shinsui, born Ito Hajime, was born in the Fukagawa district of Tokyo. In 1907, due to a financial crisis in his family, he was forced to leave school at the age of nine and work at a lithography studio. He joined the drawing department of the Tokyo Printing Company in 1911, where his talent brought the attention of the department head who arranged an introduction to the artist Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), from whom he received his go (art name), Shinsui.
In 1916 Watanabe Shozaburo noticed Shinsui's painting, 'Taikyo' ('Before the Mirror', see Scholten Japanese Art, 2000, cat. no. 88) in an exhibition and offered to publish it. It was an immediate success with the edition of 100 selling out. Shinsui and Watanabe continued their collaboration, releasing one more print in 1916, followed by thirteen designs with two variants in 1917, including this print of a young beauty. In an earlier version of this design the girl wears a kimono with wide pink and rose-colored stripes accented with a dark blue collar, the background embellished with a mica. It had been over 100 years since the use of a full mica background on a full-sized woodblock print, and perhaps due to technical difficulties (most extant impressions have condition problems with the mica), Shinsui requested a new edition without mica. This second version is arguably a much more successful composition with the beauty wearing a deep red kimono juxtaposed against the swirling baren marks (baren sujizuri), a decorative element that emerged in shin-hanga highlighting the printing process that would become a hallmark of a Watanabe-directed woodblock print.
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, 27, no. 7 Catalogue of Collections: Prints, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 1993, p. 31, no. 218
Koyama Shuko, Beautiful Shin Hanga- Revitalization of Ukiyo-e, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 2009, p. 178, no. 4-57
Kahn Trinh, Ito Shinsui, Rietberg Museum, 2016, p. 31, no. 4
Art Institute of Chicago, Frederick W. Gookin Collection, accession no. 1939.1590 (first version, lighter palette)
(inv. no. 10-5195)
price: Contact gallery
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