NEW YORK – Beautiful women, often geishas, were favorite subjects of artists working in traditional Japanese woodblock prints. Several of these colorful prints are among the top lots in a Jasper 52 online auction of Japanese woodblock prints being held Tuesday, Nov. 14, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Topping the list is Ikeda Eisen’s work titled Geisha of the Eastern Capital, which depicts a young Japanese woman applying makeup (above). At about 15 by 10 inches, this print is oban (large) size. This first edition dates to about 1825. It is from the Huguette Berès collection, Paris, and carries a $3,800-$4,000 estimate.
The auction also has a rare first edition of Torri Kotondo’s Kuchibeni, or Lip Rouge, which also pictures a beautiful young woman applying makeup (below). This print, published by Ikeda in 1932, is numbered 27/100 and measures 18 by 11 5/8 inches. It is expected to sell for as much as $3,000.
From the same era is Shima Seien’s print titled July – Collection of New Ukiyoe Style Beauties (below). Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers. The term ukiyo-e translates as “pictures of the floating world.” Substantial toning is noted on this print, but it does not affect the image.
Landscapes are also desirable subject matter in the realm of Japanese woodblock prints. Featured in the Jasper52 auction is Dainan Gate in Mukden by Hiroski Yoshida. He is regarded as one of the greatest artists of shin-hanga style, a movement that was influenced by European Impressionism with imagery focused on landscapes, women and nature. Yoshida is noted especially for creating excellent landscape prints.
One of the modern prints in the auction is Hasui Kawase’s Morning at the Okayama Castle, published in 1955, two years before his death. This print bears the red 6 mm seal (used between 1946 and 1957), which is consistent with a first edition. Kawase (1883-1957) was a Japanese artist and printmaker who would become a prominent figure in the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement of the early 20th century. This movement was influenced by European Impressionism and its imagery focused on landscapes, women and nature.
Cat lovers will be enticed by Masaharu Aoyama’s Black Cat Sitting, a limited-edition print that was self-published in 1950. Pencil-signed and numbered by the artist, it is boldly printed in bright, fresh colors.
These and 100 more fine Japanese woodblock prints will be sold at the auction.