Torii Kotondo



dated and signed, Showa yonnen jugatsu (Showa 4 [1929], 10th month), Kotondo ga, followed by rectangular artist's seal Kotondo; the title, Yuki, embossed on the bottom margin; the publisher's marks, Sakai Kawaguchi go ban (joint publication) at the lower left margin; with limited edition paper seal hand-numbered with artist's name on verso, Gaikoku iki nihyaku mai kagiri zeppan, dai kyuju ichi go, Tori Kotondo (for foreign export, limited edition of 200 printed, number 91, by Torii Kotondo), October 1929

dai oban tate-e 18 1/2 by 11 3/4 in., 47.1 by 30 cm

Torii Kotondo was born in Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. In his early teens he studied painting under his father, Torii Kiyotada IV (1864-1931), the seventh-generation head of the Torii School (the traditional artists of the kabuki theater), who gave him the go (art name) Kotondo at the age of fourteen. Under the name of Kotondo he illustrated magazines, kabuki billboards, and theater programs. In 1915 he contributed designs of actors to the pamphlet, Shin Nigao-e (New Portraits of Actors) also known as Yakusha-e (Portraits of Actors) as did several other shin-hanga artists such as Yamamura Koka (Toyonari, 1885-1942), and Natori Shunsen (1886-1960). In 1917 Kotondo started an apprenticeship with the Nihonga (Japanese style) artist Kobori Tomone (1864-1931) who specialized in historical subjects. Following the advice of his father, later in the same year he also began studying bijinga with Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), even though Kiyokata was associated with the rival ukiyo-e school of Utagawa artists. Perhaps by 1917 the sense of competition between the schools had diminished, along with ukiyo-e itself, and Kiyokata was a logical choice as the head of a vibrant atelier who also happened to be an ardent kabuki enthusiast, which would have been a valueable resource for Kotondo as a Torii school artist.

In 1929 Kotondo succeeded his father and became the eighth head of the Torii School (initially taking the name Kiyonobu, before taking the name Kiyotada V in 1941). In that same year he began producing prints with the publishers Sakai and Kawaguchi, and then the following year with Ikeda. Within five years he produced twenty-two bijinga prints, the majority of which remain among the finest of the shin-hanga genre.

The six prints issued by Sakai and Kawaguchi were first issued in a limited edition of 200 and bear a paper label on the back for the export market. Later, some of those six were reissued by Kawaguchi alone in editions of 300 for the domestic market. The last three prints in the group were published by Kawaguchi without Sakai limited editions of 350. This print is part of the first Kawaguchi and Sakai group, in the first edition limited to 200.

Kato Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. III, pl. 107
Amy Reigle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, 2000, p. 129, pl. 172
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015, pp. 185-189; p. 193, no. 136

(inv. no. 10-2006)

price: Sold

Torii Kotondo

verso seal (1st edition for export)


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