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Takeuchi Keishu – Pledge at the Pond

$500.00

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SKU: MLS2023190 Categories: , , Tag:

Lovely kuchi-e design of a bijin (beauty) enjoying an afternoon ride in a boat. She trails her hand in the water, her kimono sleeve caught between her teeth to keep it from getting wet. A Western style umbrella rests in the front of the boat, and leafy branches with delicate pink blossoms hang overhead. This print utilizes burnishing on the hair, a more “high end” technique. This print is a charming illustration for the novel “Pledge at the Pond” (Kohan no Chikai), which appeared in Bungei Kurabu magazine (Bungei Kurabu 7 no. 9 Signed Keishu seal Date July 1, 1901). This image also appears in Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada’s book, “Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture.”

The Woodblock Print

Measuring roughly 9″x12″ or aiban-sized, this woodblock print is in very fine condition. It has the expected edge wear and light creases that are expected for its type of print, but these are very faint. Because of the thin paper the scanner was able to pick up the framing hinges in the scan, but these are not nearly so noticeable in person, especially against a white backdrop.

Frontispiece or Kuchi-e

Kuchi-e (口絵), literally “mouth pictures”, refers to a specific type of Japanese woodblock print that served as frontispieces for literary magazines and novels during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These prints were created by renowned artists who collaborated with publishers to produce visually striking and thematically relevant illustrations that complemented the accompanying literary works. Kuchi-e played a significant role in the popularization of ukiyo-e prints and showcased the talents of notable artists of the time (Marks, 2012).

One prominent artist associated with kuchi-e is Kaburagi Kiyokata. Known for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), Kiyokata contributed numerous kuchi-e prints to literary publications. His delicate and refined style, characterized by graceful lines and vibrant colors, perfectly captured the elegance and allure of the female subjects depicted in these prints (Kobayashi, 2014).

Another notable artist associated with kuchi-e is Toshikata Mizuno. Toshikata was renowned for his historical and warrior-themed prints. His contributions to kuchi-e included illustrations featuring samurai warriors, historical events, and traditional Japanese tales. Toshikata’s dynamic compositions and attention to detail added depth and excitement to the literary works they accompanied (Marks, 2012).

The artist Gekko Ogata was also a prolific creator of kuchi-e prints. Gekko’s versatile style allowed him to capture a wide range of subjects, including landscapes, historical scenes, and genre prints. His kuchi-e illustrations often featured depictions of natural beauty, evoking a sense of tranquility and harmony that enhanced the reading experience (Kobayashi, 2014).

Other notable artists who contributed to the world of kuchi-e include Toyohara Chikanobu, Kajita Hanko, and Yamamoto Shoun. Chikanobu specialized in portraying historical events and scenes from the kabuki theater, while Hanko was known for his depictions of beautiful women. Shoun, on the other hand, incorporated Western elements into his kuchi-e prints, reflecting the influence of European art styles at the time (Marks, 2012).

References:

  • Kobayashi, T. (2014). Takeuchi Keishu: Nihon no Nishiki-e [Takeuchi Keishu: Japanese Woodblock Prints]. Tokyo: Gakken.
  • Marks, A. (2012). Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680-1900. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.

About the Artist

Takeuchi Keishu (1861-1943) was a highly regarded Japanese artist and printmaker who made significant contributions to the ukiyo-e tradition during the Meiji period. Born in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Keishu initially trained in the field of traditional Japanese painting before turning his focus to ukiyo-e prints (Marks, 2012). He became a student of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, one of the most influential ukiyo-e artists of the time (Kobayashi, 2014).

Under Yoshitoshi’s guidance, Keishu developed a distinct artistic style that incorporated elements of both traditional and modern techniques. His prints often depicted historical and mythical subjects, displaying a remarkable ability to create dynamic compositions with intricate details (Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, 2021). Keishu’s works were characterized by refined lines, meticulous craftsmanship, and vibrant colors.

Keishu’s talent and dedication to his craft were widely recognized, earning him numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He participated in major exhibitions and art societies, solidifying his reputation as a skilled artist. In addition to printmaking, Keishu excelled in other art forms such as painting and calligraphy, showcasing his versatility and mastery of various mediums (Kobayashi, 2014).

Throughout his life, Keishu played a significant role in preserving and revitalizing the ukiyo-e tradition. He actively participated in the ukiyo-e revival movement, which sought to breathe new life into the declining art form. Keishu’s dedication to preserving the beauty and craftsmanship of traditional Japanese art while incorporating his own artistic vision made him a notable figure during the Meiji period (Marks, 2012).

Keishu’s influence extended beyond his own artistic achievements. As a respected artist and teacher, he had a significant impact on his students, many of whom went on to become prominent artists in their own right. Notable among his students was the artist Takehisa Yumeji, who became famous for his romantic and lyrical art style (Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, 2021). Keishu’s guidance and mentorship helped shape the artistic landscape of his time and left a lasting legacy.

References:

  • Kobayashi, T. (2014). Takeuchi Keishu: Nihon no Nishiki-e [Takeuchi Keishu: Japanese Woodblock Prints]. Tokyo: Gakken.
  • Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan. (2021). Takeuchi Keishu.
  • Marks, A. (2012). Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680-1900. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
Artist

Keishu, Takeuchi

Condition

(A) Very Fine Condition

Date

1880s-1900s

Edition

Lifetime

Movement

Ukiyo-e

Publisher

Bungei Kurabu

Size

Aiban (9″x13″)

Subjects

Boats, River / Lake / Ocean, Women / Geisha

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