A Ten-Men Sketch-Tour
(Junin Shasei Ryoko)
the bound with printed paper over boards, gilt title on cover and on cloth spine, two-color decoration on the back cover; with 85 illlustrations including four woodblock prints, two lithographs, ten zincographs, and sixty-nine half-tone and photolithographs including eight 3-color halftones and forty-three shashin-ban (black and white halftones), published by Kashima Chojiro (Kobunsha), dated Meiji 44 (1911)
book 7 5/8 by 5 1/28 in., 19.31 by 13 cm
By the early 1900s, the woodblock print industry was in steady decline and there were limited opportunities for artists seeking to supplement their income from art sales with graphic works such as commissions from newspapers and publishers of illustrated books. Artists that focused on landscape subjects were at a particular disadvantage--what little graphic work that was available primarily related to designing kuchi-e (frontispiece illustrations) for serialized novels that naturally leaned towards figural subjects in order to illustrate the story. Aside from small-format prints marketed to tourists, the landscape woodblock print market nearly non-existent (a remarkable shift compared to the height in the 19th century). Emerging in 1905, the publication of landscape illustrations from artist's sketch-tours filled the void, and then ended by 1920. During that fifteen year period, sketch-tour books provided a platform for landscape artists (primarily trained in Western-style artistic traditions), to see their work published and exposed to a wider audience than they could reach with exhibitions alone. The books helped popularize the work of individual artists, some of whom would go on to greater recogniztion. In addition to woodblock printed illustrations, publishers and artists increasingly explored utilizing a variety of means of printing available including lithographs, photo lithographs, zincographs (zinc plates could be brought into the field), machine-printed woodcuts, colotypes and various photographic processes. The free-ranging styles and themes represented in the art books provided a foundation for the landscape movement which dovetailed with the development of single-sheet shin-hanga landscape prints, the popularity of which quickly eclipsed the sketch-tour movement.
This book is an example of a sketch-tour book produced at the height of the format's popularity in 1911. The tour was of the region on the Inland Sea, a map near the back of the book details the artist's route. The book includes a halftone photograph of eight of the ten contributing artists assembled for the departure from Shinbashi Station in Tokyo. From left to right: Oshita Tojiro (1870-1911), Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958), Mitsutani Kunishiro holding a canvas (1874-1936), Kanokogi Takeshiro (1874-1941), Kosugi Misei (1884-1964), Yoshida Hiroshi (1876-1950) holding a cane, Nakagawa Hachiro (1877-1922), Takamura Shimpu (1876-1953), and the last person is identified as 'Makino.' The artists Kawai Shinzo (1867-1936) and Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943) missing from the group. The woodblock printed endpapers are decorated with caricatures of the ten artists in the front, and stylizations of their seals in the back.
Scott Johnson, Sketch-tour books and prints of the early twentieth century, in Andon 37, Bulletin of the Society for Japanese Arts, October 1990
(inv. no. 10-4004)
price: $700 (reserved)
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