Welcome to the winter selection of Japanese woodblock prints at the Toshidama Gallery. We are very excited to be able to show an exceptional print by the artist Kuniyasu of three Edo ‘beauties’ holding bunraku puppets of famous kabuki actors. The print is a masterpiece of wit and and knowing dialogue with the audience. Kuniyasu tragically died young but is nevertheless very highly regarded and as a consequence very collectible. These three prints are rare to be found together; a single print from this set was sold at Christies in 2015.
The theatre theme inevitably continues throughout the show, with some eye-watering examples of Osaka printmaking at its dazzling best. There are a pair of Yoshitaki triptychs from the same story of the tragic Hakone and his wife albeit from different plays, each featuring snow scenes that are appropriate to the time of year; and a third Yoshitaki snow scene of outstanding brilliance and bravura.
Deluxe techniques appear again on two prints from Kunichika’s outstanding series celebrating the one hundred best performances of the kabuki actor Onoe Kikugoro V, known as Baiko. The print of the cat witch is deeply, deeply embossed and imbued with folk mystery… the witches hand turning into a claw visible in the paper shaded lantern. There is also a tremendous print of Igami no Gonta richly and lavishly encrusted with powdered mica in tribute to the great prints of Sharaku. Two magnificent prints by Kunisada from his series, A Calendar of Hit Plays Compared with Picture Plays, from 1852, celebrating the signs of the zodiac… the print of the year of the dragon being splashed with hand painted white gofun for the water.
The astonishing technical virtuosity of Meiji printmakers is also seen in the chilling dramatic print of the The Lonely House at Asajigahara, this series internationally recognised as a high point of woodblock printmaking. We are also showing two more prints from the collaborative series, A Comparison of the Ogura One Hundred Poets from 1847. The gallery purchases good quality examples of this series when we come across them, perhaps being the finest collaborative set made in woodblock printing.
I hope that you find something to catch your attention in the show. Do please join our mailing list to receive notifications and discounts on all prints.
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