Rare album d’estampes japonaises

Wood engraving,1878235 x 360 mm

12 000 



Superb album of 18 series of original Japanese prints including one hexaptych, 15 triptychs and 2 diptychs, totalling 55 sheets of prints.
Covering a period from 1878 to 1887, these prints bear witness to the evolution of ukiyo-e in 'modern' Japan, marked by the Meiji Restoration.

The collection includes works by Ogata Gekko (one triptic), Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (3 series), Toyohara Kunichika (11 series), Utagawa Kunisada III, Sekisai Kuniyasu, Hashimoto Chikanobu (1 series each).

The triptych depicting the assassination of Prince Moriyoshi is the second print by Ogata Gekko, it is particularly rare.

The themes of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi's three works and the 'modern' style used by the artist make them highly sought-after prints.

The 11 series produced by Toyohara Kunichika, portraits of kabuki (yakusha-e) actors, depict a renewal of this theatrical mode under the Meiji Restoration: kabuki gradually detached itself from its popular image, so much so that in 1887 (the date on which most of the prints in the album were published), the Emperor attended a kabuki performance for the first time.

These composite albums were made to order according to the tastes of the buyer, usually foreign visitors; the leporello montage of this one was probably made in 1887, taking care to retain most of the margins.

English version on demand.

Details of the 18 prints : 

 - OGATA GEKKO - 尾形月耕
Fuchibeno Yoshihiro Moriyoshi Shinnou o osouzu - 淵辺義博護良親王を襲う図
Published by Shiba Sadashiro (芝定四郎) in Meiji 16 - 1883. 699 x 301 mm.
Historical triptych by Ogata Gekko, signed "尾形月耕画". Entitled Fuchibeno Yoshihiro Moriyoshi Shinnou o osouzu (淵辺義博護良親王を襲う図), it depicts the assassination of Prince Moriyoshi by Yoshihiro of Fuchibe. According to the Taiheiki chronicle (太平記), Moriyoshi tried to defend himself by biting his attacker's blade. Produced in Meiji 16, i.e. 1883 (there may be a Meiji 15 print), this would be the second print produced by Ogata Gekko.
One copy is kept at Keio University (Tokyo), and another at the Royal Museum of Ontario.

Nichiren shounin isawagawa nite ukai no meikan o saido shitamafu no zu 日蓮上人石和河にて鵜飼の迷魂を済度したまふ図
Published by Akiyama Takeemon (秋山武右衛門) Meiji 18 (1885). 699 x 361 mm.
Triptych directed by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, signed "芳年". The Buddhist priest Nichiren prays for the repose of the soul of the cormorant fisherman Kansaku, whose spectre haunts the Isawa River.
A copy kept at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Exhibition Beauty and Violence, 49.

Taira no Kiyomori hi no yamai no zu - 平清盛炎焼病之図
Published by Akiyama Buemon (秋山武右衛門) in 1883 (Meiji 16). 700 x 361 mm.
Triptych by Tsukioka Yoshitosi, signed "芳年筆". The military commander Taira no Kiyomori, tortured by fever, believes himself to be beset by a horde of demons. A copy preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Keyes 457

Mongaku shônin aragyô no zu 文覚上人荒行之図
Published in Meiji 18 (1885). 229 x 712 mm.
Vertical diptych (kakemono-e) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, signed "應需芳年画". Entitled Mongaku shônin aragyô no zu
(文覚上人荒行之図), the print depicts the samurai Mongaku doing penance at the Nashi waterfall. First published in 1885 by Matsui Eikichi (松井栄吉), the diptych reappeared in 1887 under the name Hasegawa Tsuenjiro. This is the first printing on hôshô paper with the title printed horizontally at the foot and the embossed details..
One copy at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Exhibition Beauty and Violence,  68.)

Koukokujiman hatsuhinode chinami no unkaku - 皇国自漫 初陽因雲閣
Published by 福田保 (Fukuda Tamotsu) in Meiji 17 (1884). 705 x 713 mm.
Hexaptych yakusha-e by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿". The play, Koukokujiman hatsuhinode chinami no unkaku (皇国自漫 初陽因雲閣), marks the coming together of the most popular actors of the time each portraying the character that made them famous: Onoe Kikugorou (尾上 菊五郎) thus appears as "Saga's mysterious cat", Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫) as the bandit Ichikawa Goemon confronting Mashiba Hisayoshi, the name by which Toyotomi Hideoyoshi, played by Suketakaya Takasuke (助高屋高助), was referred to in the theatre...

Jiraiya gouketsu monogatari - 児雷也豪傑譚
702 x 360 mm.
Triptych by Toyohara Kunichika (signed "豊原国周聿"). Kabuki theatre performance of Jiraiya gouketsu monogatari (児雷也豪傑譚): the toad wizard Jiraya and the slug witch Tsunade confront Orochimaru, possessed by a demonic snake; these characters will inspire the heroes of the same name in the Naruto manga.
Starring actors Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團次), Nakamura Fukusuke (中村福助) and Ichikawa Danjuro (市川團十郎). Published by Maki Kinnosuke (牧金之助). Undated issue, bearing only the characters "明治" (Meiji) and "二月" (2nd month) in the date cartouche; this appears to be the first issue of 1883, the typographical arrangement of the cartouche being similar. The typography of the 1891 edition is different. Copies held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Library (1891 edition) and Waseda University.

Shibaraku -
Meiji 11 (1878). 650 x 350 mm.
Diptych by Toyohara Kunichika signed "應需豊原国周聿", depicting the kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjurou (市川團十郎)
in the play Shibaraku (暫).

Kiwametsuki banzui choubee - 極付幡随長兵衛
Meiji 20 (1887). 701 x 360 mm. A few stains.
Yakusha-e triptych directed by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿", for the kabuki play Kiwametsuki banzui choubee (極付幡随長兵衛) . With actors Ichikawa Danjurou (市川團十郎) and Ichikawa Sadanji (市川左團治). Kunichika will give another version of the same scene).

[Yakusha-e Triptych]
Published in Meiji 18 (1885). 703 x 362 mm. Stains.
Triptych by Toyohara Kunichika (signed "豊原国周聿")
Starring actors Nakamura Fukusuke (中村福助), Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團次), Ichikawa Danjurou (市川團十郎), and Nakamura Soujurou (中村宗十郎).

Kibbi Daijin shinamonogatari - 吉備大臣支那譚
Meiji 20 (1887). 702 x 361 mm.
Yakusha-e triptych by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿". For the piece Kibbi Daijin shinamonogatari (吉備大臣支那譚): the Japanese minister Kibi no Makibi, on a diplomatic trip to Tang China, is put to the test by the nobles and lettrés of the imperial palace: assisted by a spider-demon, he manages to decipher a complex poem.
Starring actors Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫 ), Sawamura Gennosuke (澤村源之助), Ichikawa Danjurou (市川團十郎), and Ichikawa Sadanji (市川左團治).

Karukaya doushin tsukushi no iezudo - 苅萱桑門筑紫𨏍
Printed by Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) in Meiji 20, or 1887.703 x 357 mm.
Yakusha-e triptych by Toyohara Kunichika (signed "豊原国周聿") for the piece Karukaya doushin tsukushi no iezudo (苅萱桑門筑紫𨏍). Starring Takasagaya Fukusuke (高砂屋福助), Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫),Narikomaya Fukusuke (成駒屋福助), Kataoka Gadou(片岡我童)and Iwai Matsunosuke (岩井松之助).

Chuujou-Hime - 中将姫
Published in Meiji 20 (1887) by the Imperial Printing House (皇部出版社印). 701 x 360 mm. A few stains.
Triptych by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿".
Starring actors Kataoka Gadou (片岡我童), Iwai Matsunosuke (岩井松之助) and Nakamura Fukusuke (中村福助) as Princess Chuujou (中将姫), a historical and folkloric character sometimes referred to as the "Japanese Cinderella".

[Yakusha-e Triptych]
Published by Kodama Yakichi (児王弥吉) in Meiji 20 (1887). 703 x 360 mm.
Yakusha-e triptych directed by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿". Starring actors Ichikawa Gonjurou (市川権十郎), Ichikawa Kodanji (市川小團次), Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團治), and Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫).

[Yakusha-e Triptych]
Meiji 20 (1887). 701 x 361 mm.

Yakusha-e triptych directed by Toyohara Kunichika, signed "豊原国周聿". Starring actors Ichikawa Gonjurou (市川権十郎), Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫) and Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團次).

Kabukijuu hachiban no uchi Kanjinchou - 児雷也豪傑譚
Published in Meiji 20 (1887). 703 x 361 mm. A few stains.
Yakusha-e triptych by Toyohara Kunichika (signed "豊原国周聿"). For the play Kabukijuu hachiban no uchi Kanjinchou (歌舞伎十八番の内 勧進帳); when the Emperor first attended a kabuki performance in April 1887, this play was on the programme. Featuring actors Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團次), Ichikawa Danjurou (市川團十郎) and Nakamura Fukusuke (中村福助). Copies of the left-hand print held at Waseda University and the Tokyo Metropolitan Library.

Oosakazukishusen no tsuwamono - 大杯觴酒戦強者
Published in Meiji 20 (1887) by the Imperial Printing House (皇部出版社印). 701 x 360 mm. A few stains.
Triptych directed by Utagawa Kunisada III (signed Baido Kunimasa "梅堂国政") for the play Oosakazukishusen no tsuwamono (大杯觴酒戦強者). Featuring actors Ichikawa Gonjurou (市川権十郎), Ichikawa Sandanji (市川左團次) and Nakamura Shikan (中村芝翫).
Utagawa Kunisada III (1848-1920) - 歌川国貞 Student of Utagawa Kunisada I and his successor Utagawa Kunisada II,
Utagawa Kunisada III specialised in portraits of kabuki actors.

Genpei seisuiki - 源平盛衰記
Meiji 18 (1885). 701 x 361 mm.
Triptych by Sekisai Kuniyasu, signed "應需治明" (Ouju haruaki), depicting an extract from the Genpei seisuiki (源平盛衰記) military chronicle of the Genpei War. Little is known about Sekisai Kuniyasu. He is said to have borne the name
by Seo Fumijiro and was active between 1880 and 1890.

Youfuku saihou no zu - 女官洋服裁縫之図
Published by Hayashi Kichizo (林吉蔵) in Meiji 20, 1887. 698 x 361 mm.
Triptych by Hashimoto Chikanobu, signed "橋本周延画", entitled Jokan Youfuku saihou no zu (女官洋服裁縫之図), or "Court women sewing Western clothes"; in the centre is the empress dowager Shouken and the young prince in his school uniform. There are also examples on a yellow background.


Brief biographies of the main artists:

 OGATA GEKKO - 棺近墩뫈 : Unlike the overwhelming majority of the great names in ukiyo-e, Ogata Gekko ([Edo] Tokyo: 1859 - Tokyo: 1920) did not apprentice with a master: having lost his father and the family business at the age of 16, Gekko began selling his drawings and paintings. Discovered by the artist Kanabe Kyosai, and then adopted by the Ogawa family, he exhibited at the Kanga Kai association show in 1885. Awarded prizes in Chicago (1893), Paris (1900) and London (1910), Gekko was one of the first Japanese artists to achieve international recognition. A self-taught artist who came to ukiyo-e through painting, Gekko innovated while pushing back the technical limits of printers, insisting on the textural effects of brushes and refusing the separation of colours usually imposed by printing.


Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI - 墩岡 렐쾨 Often described as "the last master of ukiyo-e", Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Edo [Tokyo]: 1839 - Tokyo: 1892) studied with Utagawa Kuniyoshi for 11 years. However, he was not appointed as his successor and, on the death of his master in 1861, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi became his successor,
found himself idle. But from 1866 onwards, his "bloody" paintings, depicting murders and battlefields, responded to the zeitgeist of the violent upheavals of the transition to the Meiji era, and brought him fame. Despite these successes, Yoshitoshi went through several phases of unproductivity, marked by poverty and mental illness. The prints by Yoshitoshi collected in this album belong to a second, relatively 'calmer' period in his work, during which the emotion of the characters took precedence over the graphic representation of violence.
Increasingly aware of the anachronistic nature of his work in a Japan where photomechanical reproduction processes were becoming widespread, Yohsitoshi devoted himself mainly to historical subjects. Ryunosuke Akutagawa wrote of him: "Do we not feel in Yoshitoshi the atmosphere of the city in those days, no longer old Edo, not yet the new Tokyo? "A retrospective entitled Beauty and Violence was devoted to him in 1992 at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Toyohara KUNICHIKA - 豊原 国周 : Toyohara Kunichika (Edo [Tokyo]: 1835 - Tokyo: 1900) signed his first print in 1854. His artist's name, "Kunichika", combines that of his two masters: Toyohara Ichiôsai Chikanobu and Utagawa Kunisada. A regular in the pleasure district and backstage at the kabuki theatre, Kunichika specialised in portraits of actors (yakusha-e) and beautiful women (bijin-ga). During his lifetime, his work enjoyed great success. In 1867, the government commissioned 10 prints from him for the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Trained during the last years of the Edo era, Kunichika preserved the style and techniques of the previous period under the Meiji Restoration. However, he adapted to the changes brought about by the opening up of Japan, in particular using alkaline newly imported from Germany.

Hashimoto CHIKANOBU-橋本 周延:  Also known as "Toyohara Chikanobbu", Hashimoto Chikanobu (Edo [Tokyo]: 1838 - Tokyo 1912) joined the army of the Tokugawa Shogunate. When the army was decimated by the imperial forces at the Battle of Ueno,
Hashimoto Chikanobu was handed over to the authorities. In 1875, he moved to Tokyo to study ukiyo-e. A pupil of Kuniyoshi, then Kunisada and finally Toyohara Kunichaka, Toyohara Chikanobu is best known for his bijin-ga (feminine beauties) prints documenting the changes in fashion and hairstyles during the Meiji era. But he also produced a large number of 'topical' prints illustrating the battles of the Sino-Japanese War.

1878 - 1887.235 x 360 mm,

Leporello album, 18 series of prints, boards covered with printed cloth. Corners rubbed.