From Ito Shinsui’s groundbreaking series “Twelve Figures of New Beauties”, a set of 12 prints issued in editions of 250, this is “Lipstick”, printed in 1929.
This print of a bijin-ga applying lipstick at her mirror is one of the early numbered editions, not the later open reproductions, as evidenced by the Watanabe numbering seal applied to the verso.
The verso seal is (on top) 貮百五拾枚絶版 edition of 250 [prints], but is missing 5 characters which would tell us which number this print was. It seems that this print was sold, or perhaps remaindered, before the final numbering characters were applied along with the Watanabe publisher seal. We have confidence that this print is authentic, however, because it wouldn’t make sense to apply this partial seal and not the other seals if it was not authentic.
The Woodblock Print
This rare, numbered edition print by the master of bijin-ga prints is in excellent condition; fantastic color, no discolorations to the image, a clean verso and clean margins. Deckled top edge to the paper.
About the Artist
Shinsui Itō (伊東 深水, February 1898 – 8 May 1972) was a Japanese artist who specialized in woodblock prints during the early 20th century. He was born in Tokyo in 1898 and was given the name Hajime Itō. He later changed his name to Shinsui, which means “truthful water” in Japanese. Shinsui was one of the leading artists of the shin hanga movement, which focused on creating traditional Japanese woodblock prints in a modern style.
Shinsui’s early work was influenced by the ukiyo-e prints of the Edo period, which featured colorful and intricate designs. He later developed his own style, which was characterized by simplified forms, bold lines, and muted colors. His prints often depicted beautiful women (bijin-ga), landscapes, and scenes from everyday life.
One of Shinsui’s most famous works is the series “Eight Views of Lake Biwa,” which was published in 1918. The series features eight woodblock prints that depict the scenic views of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. Shinsui’s use of muted colors and simplified forms in the series was a departure from the more elaborate and detailed prints of the Edo period.
Shinsui’s work was highly regarded in Japan and was also recognized internationally. He exhibited his prints in Europe and the United States, where they were well received by collectors and critics. In 1952, he was awarded the Order of Culture, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Japanese government.
Despite his success, Shinsui was known for his modesty and lived a simple life. He continued to produce prints until his death in 1972, at the age of 74.