Titled “Mabashi”, two people with a lantern stroll along a lake at Mabashi in the night. The country houses on the opposite bank cast their lights on the water surface. This print is cataloged as C-9, or No. 189 in the 1936 Watanabe catalog.
The Woodblock Print
This chuban sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Strong, gorgeous colors and rich details are contained within the print which has a clean verso and intact margins. A few trace areas on the verso top edge from the framing hinge.
About the Artist
Hiroaki Takahashi Shotei (高橋松亭), born Matsumoto Katsutaro, was born in Tokyo on January 2, 1871 and was adopted as a young child into the Takahashi family and renamed Takahashi Katsutaro. At the age of 9 he was apprenticed to his uncle, Matsumoto Fuko and began studying painting, and whom according to tradition, gave him his art name “Shotei” a variant of his own surname “Matsumoto”. Shotei was in his mid-teens when he began to work in the design department of the Imperial Household Agency. In 1907, he was recruited as the first artist for Watanabe Shozaburo. 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.