Part of perhaps a series of shikishiban-sized woodblocks that Zeshin produced based on the areas of people, animals, and scenery, this scene of a gnarled cherry tree with low clouds is a rarity. We can find zero institutional holdings of this print, and can only find one other retail record of this print which was identified as Zeshin. We’re not sure of the identification of this print as by Zeshin as the signature on this print does not match.
The Woodblock Print
This original shikishiban sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Fine coloring, visible woodgrain, and great atmospheric treatment. Light, beautiful treatment, stylistically almost ink-painting.
About the Artist
Shibata Zeshin (柴田 是真, March 15, 1807 – July 13, 1891) was the son of a sculptor. At age 11 he apprenticed in the workshop of a lacquer craftsman and then later studied painting under Suzuki Nanrei and Okamoto Toyohiko. An artist and artisan of superior skill and diversity, Zeshin worked as a painter, printmaker and lacquerer. Zeshin was also an ukiyo-e print maker whose art style is traditional and conservative, his artistic styling remained untouched by all the domestic turmoil in Japan during the transition from the old Edo period to the era of modernization during the Meiji period.
He was very successful and his art work became a kind of showcase of the official Japan for the world outside. Zeshin participated as official representative of Japan in international exhibitions in Vienna in 1875, in Philadelphia in 1876 and in Paris. Towards the end of his life the artist became a member of the Imperial Art Academy. And in 1890, one year before his death, he was appointed as member of the Art Committee of the Imperial household – one of the highest honors in those days.