Hasui

Kawase Hasui, 1883-1957

Twenty Views of Tokyo: Shiba Zojo Temple
(Tokyo Nijukkei: Shiba Zojoji)

signed Hasui with artist's seal Kawase, with the rarely-present series title cartouche on left margin, Tokyo Nijukei, followed by the print title, Shiba Zojoji, and the date below, Taisho juyonen saku (Taisho 14 [1925]); and the publisher's (Hotei 'B') seal on lower right margin, Hanken shoyu Watanabe Shozaburo (Copyright ownership Watanabe Shozaburo)

oban tate-e 15 1/4 by 10 3/8 in., 38.6 by 26.2 cm

The presence of both the series title cartouche and the earliest Watanabe copyright seal (for this design), indicates that this is a very early impression. Oddly, most impressions of this print (and other prints from this series) were issued without the series title cartouche (even the impressions in the Narazaki Muneshige book and the recent catalogue raisonne by Kendall Brown do not have the series title cartouche).

In addition to the early seals there are other details of this impression that suggest that the printers were still refining some of aspects of this design. For example, while most impressions (including all but one, from Ota City, listed in the references below) have the color of the figure's scarf as shade of purple, on this impression the color is clearly blue.

Another intriguing detail of this print is that it actually has a minor printer's flaw, which may be a block flaw that was corrected very early in the lifetime of the blocks. While the temple is rendered in a brick-red pigment (that tends to remain strong when exposed to light), the small touches of red at the sleeves and cuffs of the figure's kosode were applied in a rose-red, probably derived from beni (safflower), which is more light sensitive. An examination of the verso shows that the beni was initially stronger, but it also reveals that pigment was never applied to the triangular section at the hem. It is possible that either the printer neglected to ink that tiny section of the block, or perhaps the block was not carved properly- but because this is an early impression the error would have been detected and remedied before more prints were pulled. It also seems that early on the palette was simplified, instead of using two different red pigments for the temple and the details on the figure, most other impressions show all three sections (sleeve, cuff and hem), with the same type of red pigment as employed on the temple (earlier impressions tend to use the brick red while later impressions use a brighter red).

References:
Kato, Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. III, pl. 14
Narazaki Muneshige, Kawase Hasui mokuhanga shu, 1979, p. 56, no. 147
Kendall H. Brown, Kawase Hasui: The complete woodblock prints, 2003, p. 356, no. 147
Kendall H. Brown, Visions of Japan: Kawase Hasui's Masterpieces, 2004, p. 55, no. 19 (also cover)
Shimada City Museum, Kawase Hasui, The landscape woodblock prints of the Taisho and Showa periods, 2005, p. 60, no. 91
Folk Museum of Ota City, Hasui Kawase, 2007, p. 31, no. 17 (scarf seems to be a light blue)

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