Ito Yuhan ( 伊藤 雄半, 1882-1951) was a prominent Japanese artist known for his contributions to the Shin-Hanga (New Print) movement. Born in Fukuoka, Japan, Yuhan initially studied traditional Japanese painting before transitioning to Western-style oil painting. His exposure to both artistic traditions played a significant role in shaping his unique artistic style (Ito, 2019).
Yuhan’s art was heavily influenced by the works of Western Impressionists, particularly Claude Monet. He admired Monet’s use of color and light to capture the essence of landscapes and scenes. This influence can be seen in Yuhan’s own work, as he often depicted natural landscapes, cityscapes, and historical sites with vibrant colors and a sense of atmospheric tranquility (Kobayashi, 2014).
One notable characteristic of Yuhan’s art was his innovative approach to combining traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques with Western artistic elements. He introduced new techniques and materials to the woodblock printing process, resulting in prints with enhanced textures and vibrant color palettes (Kobayashi, 2014). Yuhan’s print designs are usually characterized by vivid colors and subtle gradations. His unique style makes his prints look similar to watercolors, a key part of that style and technique is that his prints lack an outlining key block, enabling the colors to blend without lines. Yuhan’s soft style evokes the romantic beauty of Japan’s past; the absence of human figures adds to the sense of quiet timelessness.
Yuhan’s artistic achievements extended beyond his own body of work. He served as a mentor and teacher to numerous aspiring artists, including influential figures such as Ono Bakufu and Matsumoto Shunsuke. Bakufu went on to become a renowned printmaker, while Shunsuke became known for his landscape paintings. Yuhan’s guidance and instruction greatly impacted the development of these artists (Kobayashi, 2014).
In addition to his contributions to the art world, Yuhan actively promoted international cultural exchange. He participated in exhibitions both in Japan and abroad, showcasing the beauty of Japanese art to a global audience. Yuhan’s efforts to bridge cultures and promote understanding through art played a crucial role in fostering appreciation for Japanese woodblock prints and Shin-Hanga (Ito, 2019).