Pillar prints, or ko-tanzaku, are a format that creates beautiful challenges for the artist and their compositions. In this print Shoda Koho utilizes the 3″ wide by 13″ tall format to capture a man and a woman capturing fireflies around dusk on a hillside, the silhouette of a boat on the water in the distance. This print is Hasegawa Catalog Number 1559 from the series “Japanese Scenes on Tanzaku“.
Vertical, narrow prints are a by-product of traditional Japanese architecture, which offered very few solid wall surfaces. Many times, the only solid surface available for the hanging of pictures, were the structural posts which held up the roof. “Pillar prints” became a genre unto themselves and were referred to in Japanese as hashira-e or tanzaku.
The Woodblock Print
This print is in excellent condition with good color, no visible fading, discoloration, or foxing to be seen. The print is minus its margins, but that is typical for prints within this series. A clean verso.
Shoda Koho (庄田耕峯, ca. 1871-1946) was a Japanese artist associated with the shin-hanga (“New Prints”) art movement in Japan during the early 20th century. This movement was influenced by European Impressionism and its imagery focused on landscapes, women, and nature.
Kan Shoda( also sometimes identified as Hiroshima Koho), born in Kanda, Tokyo as the second son of Yasushi Shoda. After graduating from school be became a student of Ogata Gekko to study historical portraits and bijin-ga, and entered the Chuo Shimbun to draw illustrations. The third prize was given at the “Ningyo Maizu” exhibited at the 4th Painting Co-Promotion Society of the Japan Youth Painting Association held in 1895, and the 2nd painting of the Japan Painting Association in 1897.
Shoda Koho’s entire body of work seems to have been done for Hasegawa/Nishinomiya Publishing and ranged from standalone prints, illustrations that were done for various books and calendars, and series such as in the Hasegawa’s Night Scenes series) and the series “Japanese Scenes on Tanzaku“.