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 - Handsome kuchi-e illustration for the novel "Miyama gakure" (Hidden in Deep Mountains). A teacher has visited the country, falling in love with the young beauty Osen and promising to return to her, although his family has already arranged a marriage for him. Osen looks down with a sad expression, arranging a scarf over her head to protect her hairstyle while working. The circular inset shows the teacher in Western clothing, wearing a jacket, vest, tied, and hat. Their contrast in dress indicates their contrast in lifestyles, that of a city dweller and a rural girl. An attractive design. This image appears on page 113 in Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's recent book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture."
Artist - Tomioka Eisen (1864 - 1905)
Image Size - 8 5/8" x 11 1/4"
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Vertical fold. Small loss and slight thinning, repaired. Slight toning and soiling, a few spots and creases. Please see photos for details. Good overall.
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