This print exemplifies Ishiwata Kōitsu’s reputation gained for depicting life in Tokyo and Yokohama’s streets. Choshi is a port city in the subprefecture Chiba of Tokyo and is a developing tourist destination as well as a home to many industries in Chiba. This print is a characteristic Koitsu scene at dusk in a neighborhood. The depiction of night, darkness, mist and rain became more prominent after the Meiji era because the European influence taught Japanese artists how better to construct space, depth and shadow in darker conditions. This is one of Kōitsu’s most well known works and is even today in high demand among collectors all over the world.
The Woodblock Print
Outstanding color and vibrancy describe this oban-sized woodblock by Ishiwata Kōitsu. This print has the 6mm Watanabe seal in the lower left corner, outside the printed image. There are some wrinkles in the upper margin but they don’t extend into the image itself. There is a small discoloration line along the top 5mm of the image where a matting was likely extending over top of the piece, but it does not distact from the image was it can be seen as an extension of the darkening sky coloring. A stunning transition in the sky from the orange/red of the sunset to the deep indigo. No fading or darkening in the shadowed street scene. Residue of tipping on the verso.
About the Artist
Ishiwata Kōitsu (石渡江逸, 1897-1987) was a shin hanga artist active in the 1930s into the early 1950s who created poignant landscapes portraying the beauty of everyday life in urban and rural Japan. While his work never obtained the popularity of his contemporary and teacher, shin hanga artist Kawase Hasui, several of his prints are iconic of the shin hanga genre.
Born in Tokyo into a family of kimono designers, Ishiwata’s given name was Shōichirō 庄一郎, a name that would appear on many of his prints for the Tokyo publisher Katō Junji 加藤潤二 later in his career. After graduating from primary school he studied design, fabric dying and nihonga painting under his brother-in-law, the kimono designer Igusa Senshin, who had studied under the ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. In 1930 he went to work for Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962), the publisher who birthed the shin hanga genre, working alongside his mentor Hasui and others within the publishing house.