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Hasui

Kawase Hasui

1883-1957

Selection of Scenes from Japan: Yasugi Kiyomizu Temple, Izumo Province
(Nihon fukei senshu: Izumo, Yasugi Kiyomizu)

signed at lower right, Hasui, with red artist's seal Kawase, published by Watanabe, ca. 1926

chuban tate-e 12 by 9 in., 30.5 by 23 cm

On September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck just outside of Tokyo, triggering massive firestorms that destroyed huge swaths of city. Hasui lost his home, including 188 sketchbooks, and the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962) lost his print shop, including his entire stock of antique and new prints, as well as all of the original woodblocks. Before the earthquake, Watanabe was in the midst of producing this landscape series with Hasui which was being issued in numbered editions limited to 300, with thirty-one designs completed. Once Watanabe was up and running again it took until 1926 for five more designs to be issued, including this one. Although he no longer restricted the possible production for the last 5 designs to a limited edition, it seems unlikely that even the original intended production of 300 were completed as this design is far less easily found than most of Hasui's post-earthquake snow scenes.

Presumably because all his possessions (including blocks and seals) were destroyed in the fires, Hasui began to use a new seal after the earthquake which was a stylization of his family name, Kawase. The resemblance to three water drops is commonly misread as a reference to the second character in his go (art name), ‘sui’ or water. Perhaps this was an intentional double entendre on his part. Without the aid of his ‘pre-earthquake’ artist's seals, the impression date range of a post-earthquake Hasui print is determined based on the combination of issue date and the variation of the publisher seals. Watanabe continued to use a circular seal into 1924, when he began to introduce other copyright seals. However, the old circular seal is found on the last two prints from this series, issued in 1925 and 1926. Curiously, this impression lacks both the publisher seal and the series title cartouche, as does the impression in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art, from the Bennet Collection which was acquired in 1930 from their landmark shin-hanga exhibition and gifted back to the museum in 1939.

References:
Narazaki Muneshige, Hasui mokuhanga shu, 1979, p. 47 no. 117)
Kendall H. Brown, Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, 2003, p. 338, no. 117
Carolyn M. Putney, Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, Toledo Museum of Art, 2013, p. 164, cat. 118 (also without publisher seal)
(inv. no. 10-4949)

price: $ 3,800

kikumon

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site last updated
May 24, 2019

Scholten Japanese Art
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