Igawa Sengai


Comparison of New Ukiyo-e Beauties: August, Moon
(Shin ukiyo-e bijin awase: Hachigatsu, Tsuki)

embellished with silver mica on the moon, signed at lower right, Sengai, with two artist's seals, Sengai and Tsune, the series title cartouche at upper right, Shin ukiyo-e bijin awase, followed by the print title, Hachigatsu, Tsuki, and the artist's name, Igawa Sengai Gahaku hitsu, published by the Publication Society of Shin Ukiyo-e Bijin Awase, ca. 1918

dai oban tate-e 16 1/8 by 10 3/8 in., 41.1 by 26.2 cm

This series represents a new mode of woodblock print production in which the artists act as their own publisher, perhaps with patron support, in this case pooling their resources as well as their designs. Eleven artists contributed twelve designs corresponding to the twelve months. The prints were produced striving to replicate the painterly affects of completed paintings rather than the traditional hanmoto (publisher) method utilizing black outline sumi ink drawings created expressly for print designs and then used to carve keyblocks and pull proofs which were hand-colored and annotated for the producing color blocks. Some of the original paintings are known to have survived, seven of which, including the painting related to this print, are currently in the collection of Darrel C. Karl, and compare remarkably closely with the prints.

This collaborative series has previously been recorded as published by Murakami, an otherwise unknown publisher, and dated to 1924. However, an impression of this design is included in a set of twelve prints from the series found in the collection of the National Diet Library, Tokyo, which is dated to 1918. In addition, a slip of paper attached to an impression of another print from the series, May, Early Summer Rain, by the female artist Nakayama Shuko (b. 1876), credits the Publication Society of Shin Ukiyo-e Bijin Awase, which may have been run by a Mr. Murakami. At least four artists (including Sengai) who contributed to the 1918 set also designed five additional prints representing April, May, July, August and November. The duplicated months not included in the 1918 set may have been published in circa 1924, the date previously assigned to this series.

Amy Reigle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, 2000, p. 101, no. 131
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th-century Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015, p. 208 (regarding series dating) Minneapolis Institute of Arts,accession no. 2002.161.149.1

(inv. no. 10-5322)

price: $2,400


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site last updated
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Scholten Japanese Art
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