Although not nearly as prolific compared to the portfolios of other shin hanga artists (such as Kawase Hasui, Hiroshi Yoshida, Koitsu, etc.), Noel Nouet’s prints are part of the “shin hanga” development and history while clearly lending a different perspective. Influenced by his French heritage, Nouet captures scenes of Showa-era Tokyo, but in a way that is also influenced by his Western cultural perspective and perceptions.
Prints of Nouet’s were published from recarved blocks over the years by Doi, but you can tell the approximate dates of publishing by the seals used as well as the carver and printer’s names on the print. For this print, the carver’s name (Ikeda) and printer’s name (Yokoi) are in the lower left margin, indicating this is an early printing as it was originally printed in 1937 and these two were the principals for Doi (the publisher) between 1933-1945.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Strong, rich colors and incredible detail through Nouet’s intricate line drawings. Clean, intact margins, and a clean verso.
About the Artist
Born Frédéric Anges Nouët in Locmine, Brittany, Noël Nouët (1885-1969) became interested in Japan at an early age. As a child, Nouët was exposed to his mother’s collection of ukiyo-e prints by Ando Hiroshige that she had inherited from Duchesne de Bellecourt, the first French accredited diplomat in Japan. This would spark what would become Nouët’s life-long admiration for the work of that particular Japanese artist. In 1925, he decided to apply for a three-year position as a French teacher at Shizuoka High School near Mount Fuji and began teaching in 1926.
In addition to teaching the French language and literature in Shizuoka, he also taught a course once a week at the Military Academy in Tokyo, using those weekly trips to explore the historical sites of the capital on foot and creating incredibly detailed sketches of what he saw. Sketches became volumes, volumes were printed in limited run books, and in 1935, one of Nouët’s former students, S. Doi (the son of the Tokyo woodblock print publisher Sadaichi Doi and older brother to Sadaichi’s successor, Eiichi Doi), who had seen Nouët’s drawings, offered to have his family turn one his ink sketches turned into a woodblock print. Approximately 24 prints were published between 1935 and 1937.