Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Imao Keinen’s woodcuts from the “Spring Album” in the series, “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons”


Imao Keinen (1845–1924)
(upper image)“Two Cranes in a Pine Tree”, 1891
(lower image) “Mountain Azalea, Osmunda, Green Pheasant”, 1891

A pair of diptychs from the “Spring Album” in the series, “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons” (Keinen Kacho Gafu), woodblock prints cut by Tanaka Hirokichi, printed by Miki Jinzaburo, published by Nishimura Soemon.
Colour woodblock diptychs (Oban size panels) with impressions glued together and signed on the left margin with the names of the artist and publisher.
Size of each diptych: (glued sheet) 36.6 x 46.4 cm; 
(image borderline of glued sheet) 32 x 44.6 cm

Davidson’s Gallery offers a description of the print, “Mountain Azalea, Osmunda, Green Pheasant” (see https://www.davidsongalleries.com/artists/modern/imao-keinen/mountain-azalea-osmunda-green-pheasant/). Note the the colour variation between Davidson’s impression and the one shown above.

Condition: superb impressions showing very little wear. Both sheets consist of two prints glued together. The sheet “Mountain Azalea, Osmunda, Green Pheasant” has small flecks (dust?) along the glued join. The sheets show signs of light handling but are in excellent condition (i.e. there are no stains, holes, tears, foxing or creases—apart from the centre-fold where the two panels are glued together).

I am selling this pair of original woodblock diptychs for the total price of AU$330 (currently US$251.53/EUR235.52/GBP201.30 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing these large, very beautiful and genuine prints by one of the great masters of Japanese printmaking, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.










Keinen’s series “Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons” of which these diptych prints are a part was a substantial nineteenth century undertaking. The series, from my understanding, has 160 prints in total with each of the four seasons celebrated with 40 prints showing the flowers and birds of the season. In the “Spring Album” from which these magnificent prints are extracted the featured birds and plants are full of vibrant life. Note for example the wild azalea flowers peeping in from the lower left corner in the print featuring a spritely looking pheasant with its mate. Although I am not well informed about the preening habits of birds, I imagine that the attention that each of the female birds is giving to its feathers suggests that a few spring chicks may be arriving soon.

Beyond the ravishingly beautiful treatment of the portrayed birds in their surroundings, what I love about these prints is the subtlety shown in the details. Note for instance the sensitivity of Imao Keinen’s use of the silhouette edge of the pine tree in the upper image to connote the rough and cracked texture of the tree's bark and compare this bumpy silhouette edge with the ever-so subtle way that he represents the changing qualities of feathers in the silhouette edge of the male/standing pheasant’s neck and breast. Simply amazing!

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