Arai Yoshimune – Kominato Bay
Two fishing vessels set sail at dusk by moonlight, the warm reflection of the lantern light in the hull playing upon softly shaded sky and water.
Arai Yoshimune was a Japanese artist associated with the shin-hanga (“New Prints”) art movement in Japan during the early 20th century. This movement was influenced by European Impressionism and its imagery focused on landscapes, women, and nature. In the 1920s, the publisher Hasegawa commissioned a small group of artists to create woodblock prints for a series entitled “Hasegawa’s Night Scenes”, of which there were a total of 21 prints by 6 artists.
Two fishing ships set sail at dusk by moonlight, the warm reflection of the lantern light playing upon softly shaded sky and water, while two men busy themselves with the fishing nets on the deck. A small bit of reflected light emanates from the fishing village on the shore. This print is an interesting study in juxtapositions; we have the warmth of the lantern-light contrasting against the richness and coolness of the blue tone, the details of the near-boat vs the minimalist lines of the boat in the distance, and the hard lines of the landmass vs the fading of the horizon line of the water. The effect, with the simple white orb of the moon in the darkening sky of bokashi technique, creates a dynamic composition.
The Woodblock Print
This woodblock print is likely a mid-edition print judging by the publisher seal of "Nishinomiya Yosaku" set low in the left margin and the overall sizes of the margins available. The print was lightly tipped to backing in the top corners but has been removed. There does not seem to be any foxing or discoloration from the matting or lightening from the non-UV glass it was framed in. Rich blue tones as well as the warm orange highlighting.
Utagawa Yoshimune II (1863-1941) was the eleventh and youngest son of Utagawa Yoshimune I (1817-1880) and spent his childhood residence in the Kinroku-chō area of Tokyo. At a young age he studied with the famous ukiyo-e artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) and he assumed the name Toshiyuki at age thirteen. After his father’s death he was adopted by the Arai family. He succeeded his father in 1882 to become Yoshimune II and occasionally used his father’s art name Isshōsai, along with the adopted name Arai Yoshimune. Worked as illustrator and print designer. Also known as Arai Toshiyuki.