The Kuchi-e Tradition - Kuchi-e prints are woodblock frontispiece illustrations used in the publication of Japanese novels and magazines around the turn of the 20th century. Most kuchi-e prints were illustrations of bijin and continued the tradition of idealized beauties in Japanese art. The subjects, however, have a decidedly Meiji era feel about them and reflect the artistic movement towards more western design. Kuchi-e prints typically have one or two folds because of their use.
Much interest has been generated in the subject since the publication of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture." Kuchi-e prints have become highly sought after and collected by the serious collector.
Comments - Interesting scene from the tale of the otokodate or street knight Banzuin Chobei encountering the outlaw Shirai Gonpachi at Suza-ga-Mori near Edo. A gang had been waiting to capture Gonpachi for the reward, attacking him as stopped for a break while traveling. While fighting off his attackers, Chobei arrived in a palanquin, and he was impressed by the young rogue's swordsmanship. After vanquishing his foes, Gonpachi wipes clean the blade of his sword with a cloth, blood staining the ground below. Chobei appears in a circular inset at upper right holding a lantern in his extended hand, which breaks the border of the inset to add a three-dimensional effect. Nicely composed. The first time we've seen this kuchi-e design.
Artist - Suzuki Kinsen (1867 - 1945)
Image Size - 8 1/8" x 10"
Condition - This print with good color and detail as shown. Vertical and diagonal folds. Wrinkling, label on reverse. Please see photos for details.
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