by Tomioka Eisen (1864 - 1905)
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 of 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 typcially have one or two vertical folds, because of their insertion in a magazine or book as an illustrative print.
A previously neglected genre of Japanese woodblock art, much interest has been generated in the subject since the publication in 2000 of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's groundbreaking book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture." Kuchi-e prints have become highly sought after and collected by the serious collector.
Comments - Intriguing kuchi-e illustration for the novel "Tangled Hair" (Midaregami) of a beauty holding a small box wrapped in cloth, a sorrowful look on her face. The image at left shows a westerner with eyeglasses, coat, vest, and necktie in conversation with a matron behind a window with bamboo bars. An interesting format with the beauty set against what looks like a sheet of paper with the edge curling over. A lovely expressive face on the beauty, nicely detailed with burnishing on the hair. Interestingly, this print was never used in a magazine as it has no vertical folds from insertion.
Artist - Tomioka Eisen (1864 - 1905)
Image Size - 8 5/8" x 11 3/8" + right margin as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Slight thinning at corners, repaired. A few small marks, a couple diagonal folds at corner. Please see photos for details. Good overall.
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