A very rare print by Ito Takashi, this is one of only two copies that we can find evidence of. The print seems to go by two different titles: “Charcoal-Making at Yachi in Late Autumn” and “Charcoal-Making at Towadako”; in either case there are very few copies of this print that have surfaced.
In this print we see loggers on a hillside during the fall having chopped down trees and are now creating charcoal in a kiln, the smoke billowing out across a lovely mountain landscape.
A peaceful, quiet, beautifully drawn scene.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition; lovely color, detail, and contrasts. Clean and intact margins, clean verso. 6mm Watanabe seal in the lower right corner. Good bleed through. It is possible, as with many prints by Ito Takashi, the the green pigment he used has faded or oxidized to blue, but we can’t be certain of the original coloring.
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.