Hasui 巴水: The Red Setting Sun あかい夕日

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Artist: Kawase Hasui 巴水 (1883-1957)
Title: The Red Setting Sun あかい夕日
Date: 1937

A line of Japanese cavalry are shown in silhouette crossing a desolate plain, the sky blood red behind them. This is one of four war prints that Hasui designed, all based on photographs of the Imperial Japanese Army from the front lines in Manchuria as published in the magazine Asahi gurafu (Asahi Graph). Hasui very probably (almost certainly) had little interest in promoting the war, but he also probably had little choice to -not- create works of this type at this time. One may also read some hidden irony in the title “Red Setting Sun”, as of course Japan is known as the Land of the Rising Sun, as shown on its flag and in its name. The blocks were carved by Watanabe Tadasu, the son of Watanabe Shozaburo. In “Waves of renewal” (p. 157), the grandson of Watanabe Shozaburo relates the story that Hasui carried examples of these four prints with him on his sketching tours throughout Japan as proof to the authorities who stopped and interrogated him that he was a patriot and not a spy. Even an artist making sketches of the countryside would have come under suspicion by the military government of the time.

Condition: Excellent impression; very good color and condition. 
Dimensions: ôban (24.3 x 35.2 cm)
Publisher: Watanabe Shôzaburô
Literature: Narazaki Muneshige, Kawase Hasui mokuhanga shu, 1979, p. 129, no. 406; Kendall H. Brown, Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, 2003, vol. I, pp. 28-29; vol. II, p. 502, no. 415; Philip K. Hu, ed., Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan, Saint Louis Art Museum, 2016, p. 286, no. 138, accession no. 255:2014. See “Waves of renewal”(Hotei Publishing, 2016), page 157, number 81.
Seal: Watanabe
Signature: Hasui with Kawase seal