Shinsui
Ito Shinsui, 1898-1972

After the Snow
(Yuki no ato)

dated Taisho junen go gatsu (Taisho 10 [1921], fifth month) with artist's rectangular seal Shinsui, with publisher's circular seal, Watanabe, at far right near title in margin, Yuki no ato

oban yoko-e 10 1/2 by 15 1/4 in., 26.6 by 38.6 cm

Shinsui began producing woodblock prints with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) when he was still just a student of Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972) in 1916. In his early prints published by Watanabe, Shinsui produced both landscapes and bijinga, but it was his landscapes that inspired Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) to pursue a career as a print artist. After Watanabe was able to add Hasui to his circle as his primary landscape artist, it seems Shinsui, already recognized for his depictions of women, became more defined as a bijinga artist, and produced few subsequent landscapes until the late 1930s.

The emphasis on the printing textures of this somewhat stylized landscape suggests a creative and close collaboration of artist, publisher, carvers, and printers. With the exception of the first print he published with Watanabe, which was based on a painting, in the early years Shinsui worked in the old style of print production, submitting a hanashita-e (preparatory drawing) or sketch which was used to make a keyblock. In the introduction to the catalogue raisonné, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, Watanabe Shozaburo's son, Tadasu, describes the cooperation between artist and publisher, recounting how Shinsui was eager to utilize printing techniques to bring out his design, and Watanabe's role of pushing the printers to improve the prints with their own skills (pp. 6-11).

In fact, Shinsui's prints from 1917-1921 were exhibited by Watanabe accompanied by a pamphlet titled 'Ito Shinsui sosaku-hanga' (Ito Shinsui's Creative Prints), demonstrating that the term sosaku-hanga was not necessarily defined in contrast to shin-hanga as we have come to use it today.

Reference:
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 47, no. 28

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site last updated
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