A pedestrian with a yellow umbrella walks away from the viewer, a cart driving heading towards us. The splashes of color, from the warm yellow highlights to the dark blue waters, play against the black and grey landscape full of texture and dynamism. Masterfully evocative in tones of black and grey, there are no outlines at all in this design. A print very much outside the norm of Hasui designs, beautifully executed.
Originally published in 1924, from the series Tabi miyage dai sanshu (Souvenirs of travel, third series), this is an early pre-war print having the Watanabe C seal (sausage seal).
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition. Full, intact and clean margins along with deckled edge. Clean verso. No visible discolorations within the print. Little to no toning present.
About the Artist
Kawase Hasui (川瀬巴水, May 18 1883 – November 7 1957) was a prominent Japanese printmaker known for his striking depictions of Japanese landscapes. Born in Tokyo, Hasui showed an early aptitude for art and began studying at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts at the age of 19. It was during this time that he became interested in printmaking, particularly the traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques that he would later become known for.
Hasui’s prints captured the beauty and tranquility of Japanese landscapes, often featuring snow-covered mountains, serene lakes, and peaceful villages. His early works were influenced by the ukiyo-e tradition of Japanese woodblock printing, but Hasui’s style soon evolved to become more realistic and impressionistic. He used a delicate color palette and a careful attention to detail to create prints that were both beautiful and evocative.
Hasui’s reputation as a master printmaker grew throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and his works were widely exhibited and collected both in Japan and abroad. He was particularly popular in the United States, where his prints were eagerly collected by American art lovers and helped to fuel a craze for Japanese art and design in the early 20th century.
During World War II, Hasui’s career was temporarily interrupted, as the Japanese government restricted the production of non-military artwork. However, after the war, he resumed his work as a printmaker, creating some of his most iconic works during this period, such as “Kegon Falls at Nikko” (1949) and “Evening Snow at Kanbara” (1951).
Hasui’s prints continue to be highly valued by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world. His works are celebrated for their exquisite beauty, technical mastery, and powerful evocation of the Japanese landscape. As art historian Kendall Brown notes, “Hasui was one of the great masters of Japanese landscape printmaking, and his works are among the most beautiful and evocative examples of the genre.”
- Brown, Kendall H. Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2003.
- Merritt, Helen. Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years. University of Hawaii Press, 1990.
- Smith, Lawrence. Modern Japanese Prints: 1912-1989. British Museum Press, 1994.
- “Kawase Hasui.” The Complete Works of Kawase Hasui, vol. 1, Unsodo, 1979.
- “Kawase Hasui.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 09 May 2023.
- “Kawase Hasui.” National Diet Library. Web. 09 May 2023.
The majority of Hasui prints are with Watanabe, but he also produced with Kawaguchi/Sakai and Doi Publishing.
Notes when buying: Hasui woodblocks were printed and reprinted both during his lifetime and post-mortem. When evaluating a Hasui woodblock, it is important to look carefully at the publisher seal, which will give a rough approximation for when the print in question was published, which can then be compared to when that print was originally published. Learn more about recognizing Watanabe-published editions here.