Ito Shinsui 伊東深水: Catching Fireflies; Hotaru-gari 蛍狩

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Artist: Itō Shinsui 伊東深水
Title: Catching Fireflies; Hotaru-gari 蛍狩

Series: The First Series of Modern Beauties (Gendai bijin shu dai isshu) 現代美人集第
Date: 1931, 7th month

A young woman is momentarily entranced by a single firefly, so focused that she has become completely still. She has been enjoying the popular evening pastime of catching fireflies in summer, as evidenced by the cage with several active fireflies in it. She wears the short, curled western hairstyle of the moga (modern woman), and wears a large flower decoration in her hair, but the rest of her clothing seems very traditional. She holds a firefly cage in her hands, and looks serenely up at a single bright firefly, momentary captivated by its beauty as its yellow glow is captured by the artist. Her fan hangs from her fingers, seemingly forgotten in her entrancement. The ribs of the fan have been blindprinted to give dimensionality. Images of women catching fireflies were a popular subject for print artists since Utamaro’s time in the 1790s. With the limited edition seal verso, 109/250.

Literature: Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, no. 61 (double-page illustration). Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, 2000, no. 65. Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: 20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, 2015, page 125, no. 77.  See the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. 
Dimensions: 43.2 x 28.2 cm
Seal: Shinsui  Signature: Shinsui saku