Kawase Hasui


Souvenirs of Travel, Second Series: A Water Conduit, A Scene in Sado
(Tabi miyage dainishu: Mizuagehi, Sado shoken)

with karazuri (blind-printing) in the area of the white clouds; signed Hasui with artist's pre-earthquake seal Kawase, the print title on the left margin, Mizuagehi (Sado shoken), followed by the date Taisho ju, hachi, nijuichi (Taisho 10 [1921], August 21), with round Watanabe publisher seal at lower left, and red collector's seal at lower right, Mei (or Min)- ?, ca. 1921

dai oban tate-e 15 3/8 by 10 3/8 in., 39 by 26.2 cm

This scene of a man pumping water to irrigate his crops was from one of Hasui's visits to Sado island located in the Sea of Japan approximately 13.5 miles (22 kilometers) from Nigata prefecture. The island is comprised of two parallel mountain ranges, the Osado and the Kosado with a large plain between them. Traditionally, the remote island was a place of exile, former Emperors, poets, and the Buddhist monk Nichiren were all banished to Sado, considered the most severe punishment short of execution.

In August of 1921 Watanabe published six prints illustrating scenes from Sado, where Hasui likely visited as part of his sketching tour to the Hokuriku region in the autumn of the previous year. In the same spirit as the artists who participated in the sketch-tour book movement from 1905-1920, traveling was an essential part of Hasui's process. But unlike most ukiyo-e landscape series of earlier generations, both Hasui (and Watanabe) felt strongly that images should not be based on guidebooks, picture albums, or an artist's imagination, but from actually visiting the location. And while he frequently depicted meisho (famous views) that would have appealed to a wide audience (especially foreigners), they were rarely composed as familiar views, more often approaching subjects from unusual vantage points and including less idealized details to capture a more truthful and human aspect of a place.

Narazaki quoted Hasui on his commitment to depicting authentic views:

"Once I began creating prints, I anticipated their creation and I picked places to sketch that didn't require that I omit a single tree or a blade of grass to create a picture. Over time, the landscape that I saw before me came to look like a print." (Koyama Shuko, Water and Shadow, p. 43)

Narazaki Muneshige, Kawase Hasui mokuhanga shu, 1979, p. 36, no. 70
Kendall H. Brown, Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, 2003, cat. no. 70
Carolyn M. Putney, Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, 2013, cat. no. 61
Koyama Shuko, Kawase Hasui's Travels and Travel Scenes: An Investigation from the Viewpoint of Taisho-Era Tourism, in Kendall Brown, Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints, 2014, pp. 39-47, illustrated p. 38 (detail); p. 126, no. IV69
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, 2015, cat. no. 121

(inv. no. 10-4556)

price: $11,000

Kawase Hasui

collector's seal 'Mei' or 'Min'


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site last updated
December 7, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475