Prelude: Not much is known about the early years of Utamaro, one of the master of woodblock prints and most famous artist outside Japan. Born in 1753, he studied under the painter Toriyama Sekien (1712–1788). His earliest known work is believed to be a simple illustration of aubergines or eggplants, signed Sekiyō in the 1770 haikai anthology “Eternal Spring” (Chiyo no haru). He also produced nature studies, particularly illustrated books of insects. His next known works are unpretentious book illustrations and a few actor prints that appeared under the name Kitagawa Toyoaki. In 1782 he officially announced his name change to Utamaro. The young Utamaro first produced actor prints in the style of Katsukawa Shunshō but soon started to specialize in beautiful women. Utamaro’s style evolved steadily during the 1780s and early 1790s when he established his own unique style replacing Kiyonaga (1752 – 1815) as the foremost designer of prints of beautiful women. Utamaro became the central figure of the literary and artistic world of Edo and is highly praised for capturing the most fragile nuances of emotional states in his designs but then he ceased to keep up with the changing public taste so by the early 1800s his designs became almost merely repetitions.
This is an original early woodblock by one of Japan's revered if not the most highly regarded woodblock artist of Japanese edo period (1603 – 1868), Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806). An original early woodblock impression made (circa 1770-1790) during Kitagawa Utamaro's lifetime. Early original woodblock prints are regarded as prints made during an artist's lifetime from the earliest original block designs that were cut from block sketches based on the artist's original drawings and does not necessarily bears publisher seal. This woodblock is probably the production of Japan's most famous arts publisher during the edo era and Utamoro's trusted publisher; Tsutaya Juzaburo (1774-1810s).
Dealer's label of M. Nakazawa [printed with typscript] pasted to folder; gives title as 'Vegetable', separately printed and typescript label by the no longer existing antique dealer during the Showa period- Mr. M. Nakazawa in Tokyo, with relevant details. (M. Nakazawa's other sold prints are at the British Museum collection).Original signature at the reverse. Signature of the artist printed on the image. Condition: Generally very good. Some light toning, soiling and minor wear to edges due to age. Tacked in original folder.An original woodblock print, the quality, cutting and printing is excellent though it is obviously visible to be an old artwork, it is still an exceptional piece of an authentic early Japanese woodblock by Utamaro. A rare piece of woodblock print for the serious collector of Japanese woodblocks.
Print artist: Utamaro, Kitagawa
Description: Colour woodblock print
Signature: Utamaro, signed upper left
Image Title: Vegetable
Culture/Period; Edo Period
Height: 20.5 centimetres
Width: 15 centimetres
Condition: Good for it's age.
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I have a high regard for my collection as i scourge them out on my own with an eagle eye. Collecting antiques and vintage items especially Chinese and oriental antiques and vintage items has been my passion for most of my life, However there is always a subjective element with antiques and sometimes i may get it wrong, that is why I always try to learn everyday about them.
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