The snow-covered peak rises in the distance against a sky softly shaded with pink and violet, framed by the bare tree trunks in the foreground. Lake Yamanaka is a popular lake area northeast of Mt. Fuji, the third highest lake in Japan, and one of the “Fuji Five Lakes” part of the World Heritage List. From the shore of Lake Yamanaka you can begin to see the rise of Mt. Fuji from the surrounding landscape, even as it is 20+ km away.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Watanabe round 6mm copyright seal, believed to be an early (or 1st) edition based on placement. Great color throughout, exceptional bokashi shading and detail within the mountain, trees, sky and snow. A clean verso. Minor discolorations in the top margin where it was tipped to backing.
About the Artist
Ito Takashi (伊藤孝之, 1894-1982) was born in Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, studied art at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, and was a student at the private school of Kiyokata Kaburagi. Kaburagi was the master of nihonga painting in traditional Japanese style. Kaburagi knew the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo well and his painting class developed into something like a “talent pool” for Watanabe who was looking for excellent young artists who wanted to work for him.
Takashi became one of the artists working for Watanabe. He made about 50 landscape prints for the publisher in the 1920s (with the first in 1922) and the 1930s and also after the war. Watanabe considered Takashi Ito as one of his “upper league” designers like Kawase Hasui or Ito Shinsui; their works were mostly published in Oban or larger formats.
The landscape prints by Takashi are reminiscent of German 19th century paintings and prints, full of lonely romanticism. Like Kawase Hasui, also Ito Takashi shows seldom more than one person in his designs, creating an eerie and sentimental mood when contemplating a Takashi print. The style in which Takashi Ito prints were created looks more like brush stroke paintings than typical Japanese woodblock prints with a lot of color gradation instead of plain even color areas that are so typical for classical Japanese ukiyo-e – it required highly skilled carvers and printers to produce Takashi Ito prints. An incomplete list of his work found here.