Tôshôgû Shrine at Ueno Park in Tokyo was built in the 17th century to honor the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Here the pagoda at Tôshôgû is shown behind a grove of blossoming cherry trees, the halo of light at the center of the composition delicately printed to give the pagoda prominence in the design.
One of the most quintessential prints by Shiro Kasamatsu, this image of the Tôshôgû Shrine in Ueno seen through a halo of cherry blossoms adorns the cover of the book “Kasamatsu Shiro – The Complete Woodblock Prints” and is difficult to find in such beautiful condition. Originally published in 1935 with the Watanabe C (sausage) seal, that earlier printing has a flatter design without the halo effect of the cherry blossoms which were in the 6mm edition (this printing).
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Beautiful subtle colors, margins intact, no discolorations within the image area. 6mm Watanabe seal in the lower corner. Clean margins and a clean verso.
About the Artist
Shiro Kasamatsu (笠松 紫浪, 1898-1991) was a Japanese engraver and print maker trained and excelling in the Shin-Hanga and Sōsaku-Hanga styles of woodblock printing.
Shiro was born in Tokyo in 1898, and was apprenticed at the age of 13 to Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878–1973), a traditional master of bijin-ga. Kasamatsu however took an interest in landscape and was given the pseudonym “Shiro” by his teacher. Kasamatsu made woodblock prints for the publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe from 1919 until the late 1940s. All of the earlier woodblocks were destroyed in a fire in Watanabe’s print shop following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Around 50 prints were published by Watanabe by the late 1940s. Kasamatsu began to partner with Unsodo in Kyoto from the 1950s and produced nearly 102 prints by 1960. He also began to print and publish on his own in the Sōsaku-Hanga style, producing nearly 80 Sōsaku-Hanga prints between 1955 and 1965 (pencil signed and numbered editions).
Shiro Kasamatsu is unique within modern Japanese woodblock printmakers in that he is equally well-regarded for both his shin-hanga and sosaku-hanga prints.