This Complete Set - This is an extremely rare, complete set of carved blocks for a fine reprint of an iconic Utamaro beauty portrait. The set comprises the complete five cherry wood blocks and a single Kyoto Hanga-in print made from the blocks. Five of the blocks are double-sided and one is carved on a single side. Four of the blocks are carved with images for two or three separate colors one side of the block. A total of twelve colors were used to produce this image, along with the black key block, an additional black block, and a block for the white mica background. The key block features all the black lines in the print, and is carved with incredible precision and fine line work. Pigments remain on the blocks, including a variety of reds, pink, green, yellow, and white mica. Paper remnants of the hanshita or preparatory drawing are still glued to some of the blocks. The colors were registered by aligning each print along an L-shaped kento mark on the lower right corner of each separate image.
The set of blocks are a fascinating, rare artifact from the recent past. Packed in the old papers, as noted, they have clearly set on a shelf for 30 years. Serious collectors often ask about block sets. They are almost never seen on the market. Once in awhile a single block from a broken set is sold for a high price. This is an extremely rare complete set - apparently still usable. A once in a lifetime opportunity for a serious collector to add a block set to a collection.
Kyoto Hanga-in - Founded in 1935, Kyoto Hanga-in produced high quality reprints of works by classic ukiyo-e artists like Hiroshige, Hokusai, Harunobu, Utamaro, and Sharaku, along with shin-hanga prints by artists such as Tsuchiya Koitsu, Bakufu Ohno, and Gihachiro Okuyama. The set arrived packed in newspapers dating from 1972, and the blocks have been unused and in storage since that time. The reprint includes the Kyoto Hanga-in publisher's mark in the right margin, along with the red circular personal seal of the owner, Kiyoomi Shinagawa. Printing blocks are rarely seen on the market, and even more rarely found as complete sets for a single image. These intricately carved blocks offer a wonderful look at the incredible skill and complexity involved in creating a Japanese woodblock print. Don't miss this exceptional opportunity!
Publisher - Kyoto Hanga-in
Artist - Utamaro (1750 - 1806)
Size - Print 15 1/4" x 10" + margins as shown; each block approximately 16 3/4" x 11 1/4" x 3/4"approximately 11" x 15 3/4" x 7/8"
Condition - Print: With excellent color and detail as shown, slight soiling, a few creases. Blocks: Worn, pigment remaining, some paper remnants from the hanshita (preparatory sketches glued to the blocks before carving). Writing and small label on edges of blocks. Please see photos for details.