what kind of paper/canvas was used for Sekino's "Oregon Cascade range" ?
The work you’re referring to is a woodblock print, so the media is paper. Unfortunately, I do not know what type of paper Sekino used for this print but it may be "torinoko" which he used on other prints.
This print also may be mis-titled. It may actually be titled "Kayano Kogen" (Kayano Highlands) which would make it a Japanese scene rather than one of the Oregon Cascade Range.
Kunichika portrays a scene from the “cropped-hair” play A Strange Tale of Castaways: A Western Kabuki. Written by the renowned playwright Kawatake Shinshichi II (1816-1893), it tells the tale of a “fisherman [Shimizu no Mihozō] who is separated from his father when their boat wrecks. Rescued and brought to San Francisco by a steamship, he embarks on a journey to Washington… While crossing the desert plains, his train is attacked by Indians, and he is kidnapped by the chief. One adventure leads to another — and to Europe, where Mihozō reunites with his father, Gozaemon, at an opera in Paris. The curtain closes with the two men agreeing that ‘Nothing is as deep as the kindness of people in other countries.’”1
Morita Kan’ya XII (1846-1897), owner of the Sintomi-za theater, staged this play in September 1879, using actors and actresses in a touring English troupe to perform in several scenes along with Japanese actors. Several Italian-style operettas were inserted into the play. Kan’ya’s radical staging was not welcomed by the audience and comments such as “What the Westerners were saying did not make sense at all” and “The voice of a British actress sounded just like the barking of a Western dog” were reported.2 The play’s failure resulted in a loss of over 20,000 yen to Kan’ya, which he never recovered from.3
Rikio Takahashi 高橋力雄 (1917-1999) - a master printmaker
Rikio Takahashi specialized in depicting the forms of the Japanese garden, especially the classic gardens of Kyoto. He was the son of a ‘Nihonga’ (“Japanese-style painting”) artist and from 1949-1955 became an important pupil of the seminal figure in Japanese printmaking, Onchi Koshiro (1891-1955), whose late non-representational style had a significant influence. Takahashi studied at the California Institute of Arts in 1962 and 1963 and returned to the United States several years later to work with Ken Tyler at Tyler’s renowned Gemini print studio. (See “Collaboration with Ken Tyler,” below.)
Takahashi is one of the last true sôsaku hanga (creative print) artists. He successfully explored in an abstracted manner various forms found in gardens and nature. He is especially adept at the subtle partial overlay of one or more colors to create varied opacities and textures as well as complexity of shapes.
Many of his prints evoke an atmosphere of stillness and balance that have a sense of timelessness. Takahashi’s prints vary in size, with some reaching roughly three feet in height.
Kōgyo was born the year after the beginning of the Meiji restoration, which brought Japan into the modern Western world. While this was to be a period of great political and social upheaval in Japanese society, Kōgyo’s work was largely focused on the traditional, the theater of Noh. In his lifetime he created over 550 prints, in three print series, documenting Noh performances, with particular focus on the costumes and poses of the actors. These prints were widely distributed, many appearing in magazines, books and posters.1
At the age of fifteen he apprenticed with the great woodblock artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), who had married his mother. His interest in Noh was likely sparked by Yoshitoshi, who had a “lifelong fascination with Noh.”2 After Yoshitoshi’s death, he went on to study with the painter and woodblock artist Ogata Gekkô (1859-1920), who likely was instrumental in the development of Kogyo’s watercolor-like, painterly style and his synthesis of Western and traditional Japanese artistic styles.
The Noh prints created by Kōgyo serve as “an artistically elegant and beautiful record of this theatrical genre’s customs and performances”3 that “stand in their own right as works of art.”4
1 The Theatre Prints of Tsukioka Kogyô: from the collection of Richard and Mae Smethurst, Yatsutaka Maruki and Laurence Kominz (a pamphlet from the 2007 exhibition of the same name.) 2 The Frick Art & Historical Center website http://www.frickart.org/collection_exhibitions/pastexhibitions/80.php 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., quote by Richard Smethurst, professor of Japanese history at the University of Pittsburgh.
Actors (from right to left): Nakamura Shikan IV 市川団十郎 in the role of Daihanji no Kyozumi 大判司清澄 Ichikawa Sadanji 市川左団次 in the role of Koganosuke 久我之介 Ichikawa Danjûrô IX 市川団十郎 in the role of Dazai Kōshitsu Sadaka 貞高後室 Nakamura Fukusuke IV 中村福介 in the role of Hinadori 雛どり
Kunichika depicts the famous scene Yoshinogawa from the third act of the drama Imoseyama Onna Teikin. In this scene the young samurai Koganosuke and the beautiful Hinadori decide that they would rather commit suicide than be separated. They exchange glances from their separate verandas on opposite sides of the Yoshino River as Hinadori’s widowed mother Dazai Kōshitsu Sadaka and Koganosuke’s father Daihanji Kyozumi hold sprigs of cherry blossoms, symbols of their intentions.
Kunichika’s depiction of the Yoshino River replicates how the river appears in the kabuki theater through the stage device called takiguruma (waterfall wheels) in which the river painted in bright blue and white appears to be flowing out from the back of the stage toward the audience.
Famous Products of Japan (Dai Nippon Bussan Zue 大日本物産図会)
A series of 120 prints highlighting the economic activity of the various provinces of Japan by the artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) published by Ohkura Magobei in 1877.
On August 21 of 1877, the first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) opened at Ueno Park, lasting until November. The prints were likely published with this major event in mind, although there is no evidence that the prints were sold on the site of the exposition. The publisher’s bookstore in Nihonbashi was not too far from the fairground.
These pictures show industrial scenes such as harvesting natural resources, processing crafts, shipping products, etc. in certain regions or countries, and hence depicting local industry. In the history of Japanese drawings particularly for practical use, there were various genres of pictures: Meisho-e described famous places such as temples, sight-seeing spots, etc.; shokunin-e depicted various professionals and how to make things; bussan-e were like pictorial encyclopedia for products; and hakubutsu-e were of things. The Dai Nippon Bussan Zue is a combination of these genres of picture. By presenting images of most regions in Japan systematically with respective local industries, products, and working people, it suggested the variety as well as commonality of the developing nation.
Actors with Fox (Dog?) Faces in Scene from Heroes of the Suikoden?
The kanji script on the frontispiece will probably confirm whether this print is portraying the same scene as the Kuniyoshi print on the right. I think some of the kanji characters are obsolete and not currently used, so it might be hard to read.
Help in transcribing the kanji into modern characters or even rough translation into English would be very much appreciated!
The artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) designed at least nine different series of prints showing similar depictions of Tokyo landmarks. This scene shows Edobashi (橋戸江) Bridge in the foreground with the First National Bank (daiichi kokuritsu ginko 一国立銀行), constructed in 1872 by…
“In the early years of the Meiji era, when the remnants of old Edo were still abundant, two buildings were built as a tribute to European architectural culture. One was the First National Bank (1872)1 by the Kaiun Bridge; the other was the Mitsui Bank (1874) which faced a street in the Surugacho area. Both were the work of Kisuke Shimizu2, a master carpenter with traditional skills. They had an unusual design which mixed Japanese and Western styles by placing traditional castle-like roofs atop colonial-style buildings. The tall skyline created by the two buildings was very popular and regarded as a new symbol replacing Mt. Fuji. In both location and height the two were detached from the surrounding urban context, and that made the particularly prominent symbols of Japanese enlightenment by Western civilization.”3
The Mitsui Exchange Bank was topped with a huge dolphin cast in bronze. “According to folklore, the green dolphin would protect it from fire; but the bank needed a more potent talisman against the holocaust that… would soon threaten the financial structure of Japan.”4
In the 1890s these buildings “became a public embarrassment and were torn down.”5
1 The Mitsui Bank built in the commercial district of Suruga-cho (present-day. Nihonbashi Hongoku-cho, Tokyo), was built to be Mitsui’s head office (known as Exchange Bank Mitsui-Gumi.) Mitsui-gumi had been active in currency exchange and trade in kimono fabrics since the Edo period (1603-1887) in Suruga-cho. 2 Shimizu also built the Tsukiji Hotel (the first Western-style hotel in Japan). It and the First National Bank (Dai-Ichi National Bank), were two other commercial buildings much pictured in woodblock prints of the period. Today, Shimizu Corporation, is a major construction company operating internationally. 3“The Modernization of Tokyo during the Meiji Period: Typological Questions,” Jinnai, Hidenobu appearing in Rethinking XIXth Century City, Attilio Petruccioli (ed). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture,1998
4 Mitsui Three Centuries of Japanese Business, John G. Roberts, Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1973 5Meiji Revisited The Sites of Victorian Japan, Dallas Finn, Weather Hill, Inc. 1995, p. 17.
The artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) designed at least nine different series of prints showing similar depictions of Tokyo landmarks. This scene shows Edobashi (橋戸江) Bridge in the foreground with the First National Bank (daiichi kokuritsu ginko 一国立銀行), constructed in 1872 by Shimizu Kisuke II in the background (partially covered by the title cartouche.) As in all “famous view” prints of bridges from this era there is a great deal of hustle and bustle both on and below the bridge.
Kyodo risshi no motoi "Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition"
My thanks to Yajifun for posting the transcriptions (in Japanese) for the Japanese woodblock series of prints titled Kyodo risshi no motoi (Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition.) Additional information on this series of prints is provided below. I extracted it from the website that displays my collection of over 500 Japanese woodblock prints www.myjapanesehanga.com
About The Series “Kyōdō risshi no motoi”
(Note: This series is variously translated as “Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition,” “Foundations of Learning and Achievement,” and “Self-made Men Worthy of Emulation.” The title in Japanese is sometimes seen as “Kyōdō risshiki.”)
The series depicts famous individuals throughout Japanese history, from ancient times to the present, i.e. c. 1895. Brief texts contained within a scroll-like cartouche in each print provide historical details. The “lofty ambition” of the title is a Confucian concept, originally from Mencius, meaning “righteous determination that would inspire others.” The market for the series probably included former samurai, ambitious youth, and conservative intellectuals.
“[W]hen it was completed in 1890 the publisher was singled out for special recognition by the government for having sponsored such noble subject matter.”3
1 The Tokyo Metropolitan Library online collection shows 50 prints and a summary catalog sheet. The catalog sheet lists the titles of 50 prints. Smith in Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan identified 52 prints. I have identified 55 prints from this series. 2 I have read, but cannot recall where, that the series originally appeared as newspaper supplements. 3The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization, Julia Meech-Pekarik, Weatherhill, 1986, p. 122.