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Archive: Shungyôsai II (春暁斎)

Description:
The actor Ichikawa Tôshô as a groom
Signature:
Not signed (see seal)
Seals:
Artist's seal: Gyô
Publisher:
Tani Seikô (who cut the blocks and printed the surimono)
Date:
Circa spring 1825
Format:
(H x W)
Shikishiban surimono
21.0 x 18.3 cm
Impression:
Excellent (with metallics, intricate embossing in background)
Condition:
Excellent color and very good condition (unbacked; glue residue along edges of verso only)
Price (USD/¥):
SOLD

Inquiry: SHG01 

Comments:
Background

Shungyôsai II (春暁斎) was a later geimei (artist's name: 芸名) for Gyôunsai Shummin (died 1867). He was the son and student of the prolific book illustrator/writer/print designer Hayami Shungyôsai I (1767-1823, 速水春暁斎); formal name Hayami Tsuneaki: 速水恒章). Shungyôsai I studied with Okada Gyokuzan (1737-1812), who was in turn a student of Tsukioka Settei (1710-87).

The block cutter and printer Tani Seikô was one of the extraordinary figures in the history of ukiyo-e block cutting and printmaking. Although he was born, trained, and worked during the first part of his career in Edo, he moved to Osaka in 1819, spending most of his remaining time in that city thereafter. Seikô's body of work is widely admired for its remarkable craftsmanship. He signed or sealed most of his work during the period 1822-1831, which was unusual for block cutters and printers, and a sign of his exalted status as an artisan. He worked with many kyôka poets in Osaka, especially Tsurunoya (Ki no Osamaru; personal name Asadaya Sôbei; c. 1751-c.1839) and members of his Tsuru-ren (crane poetry group), who commissioned and exchanged the majority of his prints. Seikô's printmaking seems to have ended in 1831, but it is not known whether this was due to retirement or death.

Design

This poems were composed by Wakakoma and the actor Ichikawa Tôshô (far left). The inscription at the far right appears to read Tajirô Shôzô, possibly a sponsor of the surimono.

In this privately issued shikishiban surimono (square print: 色紙判), Tôshô holds a wooden riding crop and wears leggings, standard accoutrements for a groom.

The block cutter/printer seal is at the lower left and reads Tani Seikô (谷清好). Surimono produced by Seikô are eagerly sought after by collectors and curators.

References: TSC, pp. 12-26; Fiorillo, entry for Shungyôsai I in Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, vol. 2, p. 499.