Ito Shinsui, 1898-1972


a beauty with her blue and white yukata open and folded down to her waist leans over a tub of water to wash her long hair as she braces herself by holding the edge of the basin, the light grey background embellished with silver mica, the swirling water with white mica; signed in sumi ink, Shinsui ga, followed by rectangular artist's seal Shikuntei; the blocks carved by Maeda Kentaro and printed by Ono Gintaro; with circular publisher seal on verso, Nihon moku hanga shuppan kykokai, Tomishima no in, published by the Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties in 1952

obaiban tate-e 20 7/8 by 15 1/4 in., 52.9 by 38.8 cm

In 1952 the Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties in the Ministry of Education designated woodblock printing as a mukei bunkazai (intangible cultural asset), in recognition of traditional printing techniques. This emphasis on tradition ruled out the inclusion of sosaku-hanga, because those artists did not utilize the hanmonto system of artist, carver and printer. This controversial decision was followed by a debate regarding who should be recognized individually. Eventually, both Shinsui and Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) were selected to represent the entire field. Both artists were commissioned to each produce a print to commemorate woodblock printing. Shinsui designed this woodblock print, derived from the right half of a two-panel screen of the same name which he painted in 1949.

Kato, Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. III, pl. 82
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 187, no. 126
Reigle Stephens, Amy, gen. ed., The new wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 194, no. 255
Smith, Lawrence, Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints, 1912-1989, Woodblock and Stencils, 1994, p. 53 (titled 'Tresses')
Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The female image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, p. 80, no. 90


verso seal


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
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site last updated
January 21, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475