Ito Shinsui 伊東深水: Bathing in Early Summer (RESERVED)

Itō Shinsui

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Artist: Itō Shinsui 伊東深水

Title: Bathing in Early Summer
Series: Twelve Forms of New Beauties 新美人十二姿
Date: 1922, Spring

A nude beauty crouches in the bath, hand on neck, steam completely enveloping her. The outlines of her body are defined with a subtle blindprinting (karazuri); no pigment is used at all. She glows a warm pink from the steam of the bath, and her hair is printed in a blueish purple, as seen through the steam. The marks of the baren cross her body in front, also indicating steam, a technique known as beni-sujizuri. Watanabe’s publishing studio in the 20s and 30s mark the absolute apogee of 20th century Japanese woodblock printing achievement. With the limited edition seal verso, from an edition of 200, numbered 195/200. This work must be in mint condition, as here, to present with accuracy the intention of the artist. Most extant examples are faded and discolored. Scarce, pre-earthquake design.

As Lawrence Smith wrote in 1994:

“This series (1922-3) was the most important produced by the young Shinsui for Watanabe before the 1923 earthquake and fire, which destroyed the blocks and existing stocks of prints. Those done after the resumption of production rarely recaptured the tactile quality of printing, which can be seen very clearly in this example in the whorling marks of the printer's 'baren' on the background grey, as well as the almost three-dimensional feeling of the kimono with its tie-dyed patterns. A thicker paper was also used by the publisher Watanabe for these pre-earthquake works.”

Literature: Hockley, Brown, ed. The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints, 2013, page 174, number 37. Tadasu Watanabe, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, 1992, p. 60, pl. 34. Reigle Stephens, Amy, gen. ed., The new wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 189, no. 246. Brown, Kendall H. & Goodall-Cristante, Hollis, Shin-Hanga, New Prints in Modern Japan, 1996, p. 42, fig. 38. Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The female image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, p. 55, pl. 37. Marks, Andreas, Seven Masters: 20th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, 2015, page 112, number 59.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: 43 x 26.9 cm
Seal: Ito
Signature: Shinsui saku


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