Yamamoto Shōun – Swallows on a Branch


In stock

Add to Wishlist
Add to Wishlist

Additional information


Shōun, Yamamoto


(A+) Excellent Condition, (A) Very Fine Condition




First Edition, Lifetime






O-tanzaku (6.75"x15")


Birds / Beasts

An exceptionally rare pre-1923 earthquake print by Yamamoto Shōun, published by Daikokuya (Matsuki Heikichi, note: Daikoku-ya Publisher ceased business in 1923). Very seldom seen, one of only two copies of this print that we’ve been able to locate.

Very soft bokashi shading; very reminiscent of prints by Ito Sozan and Ohara Koson, but with the painterly feel associated with Yamamoto Shōun.

The Woodblock Print

The print measures approximately 7.5″x14″, so we’re labelling it as an o-tanzaku size. The print is in very fine to excellent condition. Visible woodgrain in the bokashi shaded background, intricate details in the birds. Margins on two sides, but unclear whether it has been cropped or not without a comparison. A clean, unbacked verso.

About the Artist

Yamamoto Shōun (山本 昇雲, December 30, 1870 – May 10, 1965), who is also known as Matsutani Shōun, was a Japanese print designer, painter, and illustrator. He was born in the city of Kōchi in Kōchi Prefecture, into a family of retainers of the shōgun and was given the name Mosaburō. As a teenager, he studied Kanō-school painting with Yanagimoto Doso and Kawada Shoryu. At about age 17, he moved to Tokyo, where he studied Nanga painting with Taki Katei. At 20 years of age, he was employed as an illustrator for Fugoku gaho, a pictorial magazine dealing with the sights in and around Tokyo. In his latter career, Shōun primarily produced paintings. He died in 1965, at the age of 96.

In addition to his magazine illustrations, Shōun is best known for his woodblock prints of beautiful women and a group of humorous shikishiban (prints about 7 by 8 inches). Shōun is considered a bridge between ukiyo-e and shin-hanga, while his career spans the Meiji (1868–1912), Taishō (1912–1926) and Shōwa (1926–1989) periods.

Until the year 2003 collectors of Japanese woodblock prints used to know Shoun Yamamoto mainly by his series of beautiful women from the series “Fashions of Today – Ima Sugata”. Then in 2003 the art collector and dealer Robert O. Muller passed away, leaving to the world a collection of thousands of mainly shin-hanga prints. A representative part of his collection of Japanese prints was bequeathed to the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. And a much greater part went into the market and thus was made available to the public. Among the Robert O. Muller prints that went into the market, were also designs by Shoun Yamamoto that had hardly been known before.

Yamamoto Shōun signed most of his works with a very small compact signature reading Shōun (昇雲).