The Clarence Buckingham Collection of Japanese Prints Volume I : The Primitives, by Hellen C. Gunsaulus, 1955; Voume II: Harunobu, Koryusai, Shigemasa their Followers & Contemporaries, Margaret O. Gentles, 1965
each bound in red cloth with black lettering and matching red cloth slip case; Vol. I numbered 298 from a limited edition of 500, Vol. II unnumbered from a limited edition of 1000; published by The Art Institute of Chicago, 1955 & 1965
both volumes approx. 16 1/4 by 12 3/8 in., 41.4 by 31.4 cm
Clarence Buckingham (1854-1913) began collecting Japanese prints in the mid-1890s, quite early among other American collectors, under the guidance of the well-regarded Japanese art expert and collector, Frederick W. Gookin (1853-1936). Upon his passing in 1913, Buckingham left his collection to his sisters Lucy Maud Buckingham and Kate Sturgis Buckingham, who formally gifted the treasure of some 2,500 prints to the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) in 1925. The sisters continued to act as patrons of the museum, seeking to add to their brother's collection of ukiyo-e. In 1928, Kate Buckingham gifted the collection of Alexander Mosle (1862-1949. Mosle was, a German businessman and sometimes-diplomat who lived in Japan from 1884 until 1907, when he returned to Germany and began to devote more of his attention to his Japanese art collection by organizing lectures, exhibitions, and writing catalogues. Seeking a permanent home for the collection, Mosle attempted to sell it to the Metropolitan Museum In New York, to no avail. In 1927 Mosle recruited Gookin to wirte (in English), Descriptive Catalogue of Japanese Colour-Prints: The Collection of Alexander G. Mosle, which was likely the stimulus needed to bring it to the attention of Kate Buckingham and influenced her decision to purchase it for the AIC the following year. One of the most famous treasures included in the Mosle gift was the complete set of Eight Parlor Views (Zashiki Hakkei) by Suzuki Harunobu, accompanied by the original outer-wrapper.
Kate Buckingham provided funds to support the publication of the collection, but it would take a full thirty years after the initial gift for the first volume, The Primitives, to be published in 1955, and another ten years for the second volume, Harunobu, Koryusai, Shigemasa, their Followers and Contemporaries. Both oversized books are essential references for an ukiyo-e library, providing exceptional scholarship which identifies the subjects and subtle meanings found in the compositions, information which is frequently lacking on most museum's online collections. While volume II is relatively available (and we would argue, woefully under-valued), the first volume is exceedingly rare (and has been for decades) and important as connoiseurship of early ukiyo-e is far more challenging than later periods.
(inv. no. C-3307)
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site last updated
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Scholten Japanese Art
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