This print depicts Heirinji Temple, an active Zen temple in Saitama Prefecture dating from 1375; it is famous for its spectacular fall colors.
Self-published print, dated “1962”. Japanese title “Heirinji Temple” and dated “1962” in the bottom margin. Hand-signed “Shiro Kasamatsu” and red seal at the lower-left corner of the image. Red tiny square seal “Shiro Hanga”, edition number “37/100” on the lower right margin corner. An embossed seal “紫” (Shi from Shiro) on the lower left margin corner. Extremely rare self-published print.
Designed and self-published by the artist, Shiro Kasamatsu was one of only a handful of artists that were successful as both Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga artists. Published in 1962, this is a limited edition numbered in pencil 37/100.
The Woodblock Print
This woodblock is in very good condition, with rich, strong color throughout the woodblock. There is toning to the paper, but it is even across the print with the exception being in the margins (it slightly darks towards the edges).
Typical ink smudges on the margin. (Kento cut on the lower right margin is for color alignment and is not a defect).
About the Artist
Shiro Kasamatsu (笠松 紫浪, 1898-1991) was a Japanese engraver and print maker trained and excelling in the Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga styles of woodblock printing.
Shiro was born in Tokyo in 1898, and was apprenticed at the age of 13 to Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878–1973), a traditional master of bijin-ga. Kasamatsu however took an interest in landscape and was given the pseudonym “Shiro” by his teacher. Kasamatsu made woodblock prints for the publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe from 1919 until the late 1940s. All of the earlier woodblocks were destroyed in a fire in Watanabe’s print shop following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Around 50 prints were published by Watanabe by the late 1940s. Kasamatsu began to partner with Unsodo in Kyoto from the 1950s and produced nearly 102 prints by 1960. He also began to print and publish on his own in the Sōsaku-Hanga style, producing nearly 80 Sōsaku-Hanga prints between 1955 and 1965 (pencil signed and numbered editions).
Shiro Kasamatsu is unique within modern Japanese woodblock printmakers in that he is equally well-regarded for both his shin-hanga and sosaku-hanga prints.