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 and accentuate the slender height of the bamboo grove on the shoreline, while utilizing the spaces between the bamboo as a frame to the scene of a person on the banks of either a stream (tenkara fishing) or rice fields (a farmer). Rain is also coming down the length of the print in long running streaks. This print is Hasegawa Catalog Number 1582 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 excellent with strong color, no fading, discoloration, or foxing to be seen. The print is minus its margins, but that is typical for prints within this series. Sharp corners, beautiful color and design.
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.