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
Itō Shinsui (伊東 深水, February 1898 – 8 May 1972) was the pseudonym of Nihonga painter and ukiyo-e woodblock print artist, and one of the great names of the shin-hanga art movement.
Itō was born in the Fukagawa district of Tokyo. After unwise investments bankrupted his father’s business, he was forced to drop out of elementary school in the third grade and became a live-in apprentice at a printing shop. It was in this manner that he became interested in printing techniques and also in the arts, later becoming a student of Kiyokata Kaburagi. When he was 17 years old he was admitted to exhibit at the Bunten exhibition. Ito was approached by the publisher Watanabe to design prints for him (like fellow artists Kawase Hasui and Shiro Kasamatsu). The collaboration between the two men lasted for several decades until 1960. In 1952 his art was declared an “Intangible Living Treasure”, one of the highest official awards an artist could receive, and in 1970 the artist was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.