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Archive: Maeda Tôshirô (前田藤四郎)

Untitled (fisherman)
Not signed, but sealed Mae (前) at lower right of image)
Seal: Watanabe (わたなべ) in LR margin (not the 20th-century publisher Watanabe Shôzaburô, 1885-1962)
Apparently self-published
c. 1940s
(H x W)
Large ôban
26.0 xc 39.0 cm
Excellent color and very good condition (with full presentation folder, unbacked; no marks of any kind on print or folders, paper with original intended slight tone; the cut in the top corner is found on other impressions and appears to be an alignment notch used during the printing process)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry (Ref #MAE01)


Maeda Tôshirô (前田藤四郎), 1904-1990, was born in Akashi City, Hyôgo prefecture, and lived for most of his life in Osaka. He graduated from the Kobe Higher Business School in 1927 and first worked as a commercial artist. He was self-taught in making hanga, starting with linocuts and later producing woodcuts. Occasionally he produced works using both media. Before World War II, Maeda favored traditional subject matter and techniques, but post-war, he increasingly simplified his forms and introduced less representational works, perhaps influenced by Western abstraction in the arts. This was especially true of his linocuts. Also influencing his late non-representatonal style were bingata (lit., "red style": 紅型) resist-dye textiles from Okinawa. Some of Maeda's late works are particularly admired for their nearly surrealistic style.


Simplification of line and form is evident in Maeda's depiction of a fishman by a river. Note, for example, the shape of the trees at the middle right of the design, rendered like jagged cuts into wood and with almost no detail. Also obvious are the somewhat abstracted cresting waves, which are echoed in the yellow, green, and blue areas used for the grass behind the fisherman; these in turn produce an unexpected visual illusion, as if the ground itself is flowing like the river. In fact, despite the somewhat solid headland, trees, and houses, the overall effect of this composition is one of swirling movement. Looking at this scene, one might not be surprised to see the dark side of the promitory weaken and flow down into the trees and houses. In the middle of all this graphic instability stands the solitary fisherman.