sealed Konen, with publisher's seal of Kobayashi Bunshichi, followed by the number 325, pre-1923
oban yoko-e 9 1/4 by 14 in., 23.6 by 35.6 cm
Uehara Konen was born in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. He was a student of the painter Kajita Hanko (1870-1917) and of Matsumoto Fuko (1840-1923), who was the uncle of Takashi Hiroaki (Shotei, 1871-1945).
Konen initially published his prints with Kobayashi Bunshichi (1864-1923), an ukiyo-e dealer who collected privately and also published reproductions. Kobayashi was a very influential figure; in 1898, he and Ernest Fenellosa (1853-1908, former curator of Japanese art of the MFA, Boston) organized the first exhibition of ukiyo-e in Ueno Park in Tokyo. He was also a supplier of Hayashi Tadamasa (1853-1906), the famous dealer of ukiyo-e located in Paris. Konen produced a great number of prints with Kobayashi, the lyrical subjects apparently intended to suit the tastes of buyers of classic ukiyo-e. Unfortunately, Kobayashi's shop and legendary collection of ukiyo-e were destroyed in the fires following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. As a result, impressions of Konens pre-earthquake prints are extremely scarce.
Konen prints published by Kobayashi Bunshichi frequently have a numbered cartouche following the artist and publisher seals. If these numbers designate the number of Konen works published, he must have been very prolific as there are designs extant which are numbered (at least) to the high 400s. With the death of Kobayashi in the same year as the 1923 earthquake, Konen turned to Watanabe Shozaburo (a former employee of Kobayashi from 1902-06), producing a small number of prints for his new publisher in the following decade.
Amy Reigle Newland, gen. ed., Printed to Perfection: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 2004, pp. 33-34
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