Hiroaki Takahashi (Shotei) – Coming Ships


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Shotei, Hiroaki Takahashi


(A) Very Fine Condition






Chuban (7"x10")


Boats, Landscape, Sunrise / Sunset

At the end of a long day, with a beautiful sunset forming, fishing vessels queue up heading back into port, running with the wind and their sails billowed out. Warm and vibrant colors backlight the scene for the viewer watching from shore, framing the ships and the sunset with a large pine tree.

The Composition

It’s rare to see such warm and vibrant colors being used by a shin-hanga woodblock artist, let alone Shotei. Strong and pronounced blues play off against the shading warm tones of the sunset in amazingly bright usage. The scene is framed as if the viewer is on a cliff on shore, perhaps in the branches of a large pine tree, taking in both the majesty of the sunset over the horizon, but also the fishing vessels lining their way back in to port.

The Woodblock Print

With the exception of minor tipping on the verso in the top corners, this print is in very fine condition. Incredibly vibrant color. No discoloration, intact margins, and strong color with bleed-through to the reverse.

The Artist

Born in Tokyo as Katsutaro Takahashi, Hiroaki (aka Shotei/ Komei) was in his mid-teens when he began to work in the design department of the Imperial Household Agency. He studied nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting” under his uncle Fuko Matsumoto, but also worked as an illustrator for periodicals and textbooks. Beginning in the early Taisho period, Hiroaki regularly collaborated with the prominent Shin Hanga publisher Shozaburo Watanabe. Hiroaki used a variety of signatures. Many of his large landscape and bijin-ga are signed “Hiroaki,” while ‘Shotei’ appears on other works. Hiroaki was a productive artist, completing around five hundred designs by the time he was fifty. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed by the fire that raged in the aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. Despite this tragedy, Hiroaki continued to work as a printmaker until his death in 1945.

After the earthquake Shotei created another 250 prints mostly depicting scenic Japanese landscapes in the shin hanga style he had helped to define. He continued to work for Watanabe, but also worked with the publishers Fusui Gabo and Shobido Tanaka, where he had more control over the finished print than was possible with Watanabe.Shotei used a variety of names, signatures and seals during his lifetime. From 1907 until 1922 he used the name Shotei, and after 1922 Hiroaki and Komei.