Bakufu: Five Wrasse (Beraベラ) (First Edition) (Sold)

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Artist: Ohno Bakufu (1888-1976)
Title: Five Wrasse (Beraベラ) (First Edition) 
Series: Great Japanese Fish Picture Collection 大日本魚類画集 (Dai Nihon yorui gashu) 
Date: 1937, November
Publisher: Nishinomiya Shoin

Five beautifully colored and patterned wrasse swim near some ethereal clumps of seaweed. Here is the translation of the entry in the Japanese book on the series: “The name “kyûsen“ is used only (by the people) of Misaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. In general usage, it is simply called “bera“, a wrasse. The base color of a male kyûsen is blue, with one large dark-blue spot on the body side where a pectoral fin attaches. The base color of a female is orange-red, and it has no spot like a male. Surprisingly, babies of both sexes have the same color as the grown female. Therefore, a young male looks like the mixture of the male and female kyûsen.”

Bakufu Ohno designed 72 prints in his “Art Portfolio of Familiar Fishes of Nippon”, which was published by the Kyoto publisher Nishinomiya Shoin in five volumes between 1937 and 1941. This series depicts fish indigenous to the waters of Japan. Works from this series are highly appreciated for their attention to detail and the extremely high printing quality. Here the water and areas of the fish have a light layer of mica. Later editions were printed by a different Kyoto publisher, but they lack the finesse of the first edition.

The woodblocks for the series were carved by Fujikawa Zosai and printed by two printers, Mitsumoto Joho and Negita Mannen. Each design was limited to an edition of 500  and the volumes were distributed under a subscription system.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Printed on heavy, deluxe paper. A few very minor spots upper left.
Dimensions: oban (39.8 x 28 cm) 
Signed: Bakufu

Reference:  Art Portfolio of Fishes by Bakufu Ono by Reita Hirase, Akira Tomita, and Hiroko Shimizu, Tokyo Station Gallery, 2013, number 56.

Sealed: Carver's name "Fujikawa" and Printer's name "Mitsumoto" with a red seal, lower right corner.