Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Utagawa Hiroshige II’s, colour woodcut print of pear blossoms, 1866


Utagawa Hiroshige II (二代目 歌川広重 Ni-daime Utagawa Hiroshige) (1826–1869)

“Pear Trees as Rokugo” 「三十六花撰」「東都六郷梨子」 「八」, 1866 (Keiô 2), 7th month, Plate 8 from the series “Thirty-six Flowers at Famous Places in Tokyo” (aka Sanjûrokkasen), published by Tsutaya Kichizô (Kôeidô)

Color woodcut print (nishiki-e) on fine laid paper (washi), trimmed along the image borderline
Size: (trimmed vertical ôban) 32.5 x 22 cm
Signed “Kisai Risshô hitsu” (喜斎立祥筆)
Censor's seal: Tiger 7 aratame
No blockcutter's mark
改印:寅七改
彫師:なし


Condition: the print has a subtle and significant patina of age and there are signs of handling in terms of abrasion, closed tears (supported by archival tape verso) and an area of loss (repaired verso) towards the lower edge. The print has been trimmed along the image borderline.

I am selling this beautiful old (no doubt lifetime) impression by one of the most famous of the ukiyo-e woodcut printmakers, Hiroshige II, for the total cost of AU$162 (currently US$127/EUR108.03/GBP96.46 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this rare and very subtly coloured print, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


One of the very revealing outcomes of researching artists is that I have to rethink my preconceived ideas about them. This is certainly the case when I set out on what I envisaged to be a simple mission of finding if there were alternative names for the famous ukiyo-e woodcut printmaker, Utagawa Hiroshige II.

I discovered that this artist’s original name was Suzuki Chinpei (鈴木鎮平). His name changed to Shigenobu when he became apprenticed to the legendary Utagawa Hiroshige I (歌川 広重) (aka Andō Hiroshige [ 安藤 広重] (1797–1858). To complicate the issue regarding his name, when Shigenobu was an apprentice he signed his art works with the name “Ichiryūsai mon” (i.e. "student of Ichiryūsai”—a gesture of reverence to his master’s artistic name). The “mon” component of this name was later abandoned when Shigenoby usurped his master’s artistic name and made it his own: “Ichiryūsai.” The evolution of names for the artist did not stop at this point. Suzuki Chinpei/ Shigenobu/ Ichiryūsai mon/ Ichiryūsai married Hiroshige I's daughter and, after the death of his father-in-law, he inherited the name “Hiroshige” as well as the name “Ryūsai.” The saga of name changing did not end here. Suzuki Chinpei/ Shigenobu/ Ichiryūsai mon/ Ichiryūsai/Hiroshige/Ryūsai adopted the name Kisai Risshō (aka Ryūshō) (喜斎立祥) after dissolving his marriage.

When I checked on alternative names for Hiroshige II at the British Museum (see http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=147831), I discovered three additional names beyond those that I have already compiled into my list: Utagawa Shigenobu, Suzuki Hiroshige and Morita Chimpei.

Now I can give the list of alternative names for Hiroshige II keeping in mind that the final name is the one he chose to sign this print—“Kisai Risshô hitsu” (喜斎立祥筆):
- Suzuki Chinpei;
- Morita Chimpei
- Shigenobu
- Utagawa Shigenobu
- Ichiryūsai mon;
- Ichiryūsai;
- Suzuki Hiroshige
- Hiroshige;
- Ryūsai;
- Kisai Risshô.

If there was ever someone who would have suffered from having an identity problem I suspect that it would be Hiroshige II. I wonder what his friends called him when they were out on a night raging?





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