Mizuno Toshikata (1866 - 1908) Bungei Kurabu: A Beauty Looking at Autumn Grass, c.1897. Kuchi-e.
We have three superb kuchi-e pictures in this show. Kuchi-e means ‘mouth pictures’ since they were inserts into the front, or the mouth of literary magazines and novels at the close of the nineteenth century. Like so many prints of the late Meiji period kuchi-e were produced to the very highest standard by a handful of the foremost artists of the day. Many featured women... their trials, their tribulations... and most of the magazines were destined for a female readership. Many are simply superb woodblock prints. The three in the show are by the great artist Mizuno Toshikata.
Kuchi-e conform to the size 22cm x 30cm, being designed to be concertina folded in three and tipped into the frontispiece of the book. They were, and are, great art in themselves, lavish in production and accounting for over half the cost of the whole book. Many of the books do not survive, but such is the value placed on the prints, these have been saved and many remain in fine condition although all bear the fold marks of their previous inclusion in the books.
Prices are still low, given the excellence of the work; however this starting to change following the publication of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture. All these prints are from the magazine Bungei Kurabu ("Literary Club") Magazine.
A superb rendition of a woman looking over her shoulder at long grasses. Very fine carved detail and gentle, beautiful colours. Very good impression and colour, some wear but very good overall.