Ippitsusai Buncho

fl. ca. 1755-90

Poetic Immortals for the Arts: Departing
(Gei kasen)

signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga with artist's seal Mori uji, and Hayashi collector's seal, ca. 1768-72

chuban tate-e 10 by 7 3/8 in., 25.5 by 18.7 cm

The small round seal in the lower left corner is that of the enormously influential art dealer, Tadamasa Hayashi (1853-1906). In his mid-twenties, Hayashi had traveled to Paris in 1878 to work as a translator for a corporation managing the Japanese contributuions to the Paris Exposition Universelle. At the conclusion of the exhibition, he stayed on to sell off the remaining stock and worked as an assistant to the collector and dealer, Wakai Kenzaburo (1834-1908). When Wakai retired in 1886, Hayashi established a business in his own name. While Hayashi built up the retail side of the business in Paris, his wife, Satoko, remained in Tokyo and employed up to five other specialists (with notoriously high standards), to seek out the best prints for his thriving business in Paris. It was Satoko who suggested that they seal all of the works they handled. It has been estimated that some 160,000 Japanese woodblock prints and 10,000 illustrated books passed through Hayashi's hands. The Hayashi seal is generally regarded as a reliable indicator of authenticity and quality (although condition is another matter due to less conscientious subsequent custodians and the ravages of time). However, it is a bit of a misnomer to identify it a collector's seal as he was not strictly a collector and it is understood that while he may have had a collection (like most art dealers), the lines between private collection and inventory may not have been particularly rigid.

Julia Meech-Pekarik, Early Collectors of Japanese Prints and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 17, 1982, pp 93-118
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, accession no. 11.19318

price: Sold


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