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Hasui, Kawase

One of the most sought-after Japanese printmakers, and perhaps the most recognizable shin-hanga landscape artist. Kawase Hasui (川瀬巴水, 1883-1957) was born to a textile dealer as the first son and thankfully rebelled against taking over the family business.

As a child Hasui learned to paint in Western style under teacher Saburosuke Okada who taught him watercolor and oil painting. At the age of 26 Kawase tried to be accepted as a student by Kiyokata Kaburagi, a painter in traditional Japanese style, but Kaburagi considered him to be too old and rejected him. Kawase tried it again two years later and was finally accepted. Kiyokata soon recognized the talents of his student and introduced him to Watanabe Shozaburo, a rising businessman in his “New Prints” movement/business in 1916. In 1918 Hasui saw and was inspired by Ito Shinsui’s “Eight Views of Lake Biwa” which were being shown at a Kyodokai exhibition; Hasui submitted sketches to Watanabe and so began 30+ years of collaboration.

In 1918, he released three pieces of “Shiobara” from Watanabe Printshop, afterwards, produced a number of landscape prints throughout his life and is considered one of the greats of the Shin Hanga art movement in Japanese woodblock printing. The majority of Hasui prints are with Watanabe, but he also produced with Kawaguchi/Sakai and Doi Publishing.

Notes when buying: Hasui woodblocks were printed and reprinted both during his lifetime and post-mortem. When evaluating a Hasui woodblock, it is important to look carefully at the publisher seal, which will give a rough approximation for when the print in question was published, which can then be compared to when that print was originally published. Learn more about recognizing Watanabe-published editions here.

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