A beautiful view of the village of Ochanomizu, a neighborhood within the greater Tokyo area. Dusk is falling as the lights come on in buildings along the Kanda River. Pedestrians and a car(!) can be seen on the bridge as silhouettes.
A rare first edition of a seldom-seen design by Shiro Kasamatsu (first editions contain the year in the lower left margin).
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition; great color, no discolorations, full and clean margins. Even toning. Kento cutout in the lower right margin. Tape residue on the verso. Based on the date seal in the left margin this is a first edition printing by Unsodo (the publisher), generally limited to 100 or 250 prints.
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.