This print is a post-earthquake version of Evening glow at Sakawa Bridge, catalog number M-9. There is also a pre-quake version, and you can view the differences here.
A beautiful image of silhouetted travelers making their way across Sakawa Bridge as the sun sets. In the scene, two bearers carry a palanquin over the bridge, one holding a softly glowing lantern to light the way. The silhouetted pilings of the bridge are reflected on the shimmering water below, and the sky is a lovely warm peach glow shaded to yellow as a crescent moon rises.
The Woodblock Print
A rare o-tanzaku sized woodblock (roughly 15″ x 6 -3/4″ vertical) in fine condition. Normally this print would have very thin margins, but those margins have been trimmed. The print hasn’t been trimmed into the image itself, but the thin margins have been removed. Otherwise the print has beautiful color without discolorations and a clean verso.
About the Artist
Born in Tokyo as Katsutaro Takahashi, Hiroaki Takahashi Shotei (高橋松亭, aka Shotei/ Komei) was in his mid-teens when he began to work in the design department of the Imperial Household Agency. He studied nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting” under his uncle Fuko Matsumoto, but also worked as an illustrator for periodicals and textbooks. Beginning in the early Taisho period, Hiroaki regularly collaborated with the prominent Shin Hanga publisher Shozaburo Watanabe. Hiroaki used a variety of signatures. Many of his large landscape and bijin-ga are signed “Hiroaki,” while “Shotei” appears on other works. Hiroaki was a productive artist, completing around five hundred designs by the time he was fifty. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed by the fire that raged in the aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. Despite this tragedy, Hiroaki continued to work as a printmaker until his death in 1945.
After the earthquake Shotei created another 250 prints mostly depicting scenic Japanese landscapes in the shin hanga style he had helped to define. He continued to work for Watanabe, but also worked with the publishers Fusui Gabo and Shobido Tanaka, where he had more control over the finished print than was possible with Watanabe. Shotei used a variety of names, signatures and seals during his lifetime. From 1907 until 1922 he used the name Shotei, and after 1922 Hiroaki and Komei.