Shinsui, Twelve Images of Modern Beauties: Bathing in Early Summer

Ito Shinsui, 1898-1972

Twelve Images of Modern Beauties: Bathing in Early Summer
(Shin bijin junisugata: Shoka no yoku)

signed and dated Taisho juichinen haru Shinsui saku (Taisho 11 [1922], spring, by Shinsui), with artist's seal Ito, publisher's seal Watanabe in white at lower right corner with red seal tame shizuri (test print)

dai oban tate-e 17 1/8 by 10 1/2 in., 43.6 by 26.7 cm

This print exemplifies the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo's innovative use of baren sujizuri as a decorative motif as well as an opportunity to depict the haze of a steamy bath. The outline of the nude, conveyed with overlaping karazuri (blind printing), seems to dissolve within the vigorous baren marks.

The recent Japanese publication of the Muller Collection, Beautiful Shin Hanga (reference below), illustrates six different impressions of this print: a 'final' version numbered from a limited edition of 200; three test prints (two with Watanabe's notations along the margin), a trial print from an edition of 100 that was considered the first run but rejected by Watanabe; and then a the second trial print which is very close the the final version but not sealed or numbered. Although it is suggested that the first trial may have had problems with the karazuri, perhaps Watanabe was not satisfied with the strong flush of pink on her face, body, finger tips and toes; the final edition, which is very similar to this test print, has a more blue palette and a greater emphasis on the affect of the baren swirls.

References:
Kato, Junzo, comp., Kindai Nihon hanga taikei, 1975-76, Vol. 1, pl. 182
Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 60, pl. 34
Reigle Stephens, Amy, gen. ed., The new wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 189, no. 246
Brown, Kendall H. & Goodall-Cristante, Hollis, Shin-Hanga, New Prints in Modern Japan, 1996
Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The female image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, p. 55, pl. 37
Nihon no hanga III 1921-1930, Toshi to onna to hikari to kage to (Japanese Prints III, 1921-1930: Cities and Women, Lights and Shadows), Chiba City Museum of Art, 2001, p. 36, pl. 2-1
Koyama Shuko, Beautiful Shin Hanga- Revitalization of Ukiyo-e, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 2009, p. 208, nos. 5-13 - 5-18

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