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Ohara Koson – Flycatchers on Snow-covered Nandina (“A” seal)


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SKU: MLS2022121 Category: Tag:

First published in 1929 and signed “Shoson”, this is a rare Watanabe “A” seal first edition of an exceptionally rare Ohara Koson woodblock print.  This print was re-published by Watanabe the late 1980s+ with the “L” and “M” seals, but we’re only able to find a few copies of the 6mm seal or before in collections or sales records. Of the sales records, we see a “C” seal being called the first edition; this copy with an “A” seal is the only instance we can find.

This print showcases a beautiful winter scene of two flycatchers perched on a nandina bush covered with red berries. The bright blue of the bird’s feathers and bright red of the berries pop against the grey sky with falling snow and the snow-covered leaves. Gorgeous detail and bokashi shading.

The Woodblock Print

This oban-sized woodblock is in overall very fine condition. Great color and detail, there is some faint toning around the edges of the print, most likely from matting. Clean and intact margins along with a mostly clean verso (a small area of tape residue).

A rare and desirable Koson print with an extremely rare Watanabe “A” seal. You can learn about the different Watanabe seals here.

About the Artist

Ohara Koson (小原古邨, 1877-1945), who also went by the art names of Hoson and Shoson, began his career as the student of Suzuki Koson where he painted plants and animals between 1895-1902 gradually becoming known as a Nihonga painter (a term meaning traditional Japanese vs the increasingly popular Western style) in the Kacho-ga (nature print) genre. Briefly during the Russo-Japanese war Koson produced Senso-e (war prints), but the vast majority of his early prints (1900 -1912) were nature prints designed for the North American and European markets for the publishers Kokkeido and Daikokuya. These prints were all signed “Koson”. Between 1912-1926 Koson returned to painting, but using the name Shoson, he continued to design woodblock prints, this time in collaboration with S. Watanabe. Koson also produced prints using the name Hoson which were published by Kawaguchi between 1930-1931.

While the artists’ prints had always been sold abroad, Koson’s success was cemented as a result of the 1930 and 1936 Toledo Museum exhibitions. More prints by Koson were sold during these shows than any other artists’ due to their artistic merit and their relatively inexpensiveness in comparison with of the works of Yoshida, Shinsui, Hasui and others. Koson’s career peaked in the mid 1930’s. His work is realistic, based mainly on his own sketches and watercolors. It is estimated that he produced more than 450 designs of birds.

Artist Seal(s)


Signing as “Shoson”


Signing as “Hoson”

Ohara Koson Ohara Koson Ohara Koson Ohara Koson Ohara Koson Ohara Koson


Koson, Ohara


(A) Very Fine Condition




First Edition, Lifetime




Watanabe Shozaburo


Oban (10"x15")


Birds / Beasts, Snow

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