Japanese Woodblock Print, 1920, pre-earthquake print published by Watanabe
SIZE IN INCHES: 11.25 x 16 inches
TOYONARI YAMAMURA (1885-1942) studied with Ogata Gekko and he graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1907. One of his paintings was exhibited at the first Bunten Exhibition in 1907. At the 1916 Bunten, the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo saw one of Toyonari's paintings and asked him to make a print of it, which was followed by a series called Flowers of the Theatrical World that included 12 prints. Toyonari also made several other woodblock designs, his total oeuvre not exceeding 30 woodblock prints. In 1930 17 of his works were exhibited during the Toledo Museum exhibition.
In 1923 Tokyo was struck by the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake. In the fires that broke out after the earthquake, Watanabe's print shop was destroyed with all the wood block sets for Watanabe published prints stored inside—including the blocks for Toyonari Yamamura's actor prints. Thus pre-earthquake prints published by Watanabe are a rare find today, having never been reprinted, and only limited editions having been published prior to 1923.