Pillar prints, or ko-tanzaku, are a format that creates beautiful challenges for the artist and their compositions. In this print Yoshimoto Gesso utilizes the 3″ wide by 13″ tall format to capture a scene of a sailboat plying the waters under a full moon with a whisp of a cloud. This print is Hasegawa Catalog Number 1581 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 very fine condition with strong color, no fading, no discoloration, and only minor foxing. A clean verso. No margins as is common for this series.
Yoshimoto Gesso is known for a large number of landscape and kacho-e (images of birds and flowers) designs published by Hasegawa and Nishinomiya, but little else is biographically known about him. These designs were very well crafted with artistic compositions made presumably for the export/foreign market. His work is very painterly, leading some to believe that he was a trained painter whose works were commissioned, and then transformed into woodblocks by the professional carvers and printers at Hasegawa and Nishinomiya, but that is speculation.