Hasui (1883 - 1957)

Kozu, Osaka

Series: Souvenirs of Travel III
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1924
Size (H x W): 15.25 x 10.25 (inches)
Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo
Seals: Hanken shoyu Watanabe Shozaburo, Hanken shoyu Watanabe Shozaburo ("sausage seal"))
Signature: Hasui
Condition: Very good color and impression, small scratch near top edge, pasted down center on board.



This print is unusual in that it has two publishers seals, the rectangular Watanabe seal (used roughly between 1924-1930) in the left margin, and the very faint outline of the "sausage" Watanabe seal (used between 1929-1942) in the lower right margin. As these seals were both in use between 1929-1930 and each seal can be found on pre-war impressions of this design, it is possible that the right margin seal was printed too lightly to be legible, so the publisher's seal was reprinted on the left margin.

About the artist

Regarded as a major Japanese landscape artist of the 20th century, Hasui Kawase’s prints are characterized by their serenity of mood and flawless composition. Born Bunjiro Kawase in Tokyo, Hasui Kawase was the son of a silk braid merchant. He began his artistic career studying Japanese-style painting with Kiyokata, as well as Western-style at the Hakubakai. His talent was clear, exhibiting in the Tatsumi Exhibition of Painting at age 19. However, soon after seeing Shinsui’s series Eight Views of Lake Biwa, Hasui turned his attention to woodblock printing in 1919. Shozaburo Watanabe was the first to recognize his artistic genius and Hasui Kawase soon became the most popular artist working for this prestigious publisher. Hasui traveled widely in Japan and his subjects consisted mostly of his surroundings. These Japanese landscape prints are based upon small, quick sketches and watercolors taken from nature. Unfortunately, during the earthquake of 1923, all of his woodblocks and over 200 sketches were destroyed. The works that predate this event are extremely scarce and in great demand today. Undaunted, Hasui continued to produce his landscape prints. In 1956, the Japanese government’s Committee for the Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage designated Hasui's Zojo Temple in Snow and the documentation of its production as Intangible Cultural Treasures, the greatest artistic honor in postwar Japan. All of Hasui Kawase Japanese landscape artwork prints are signed “Hasui” usually with a variety of red seals reading “sui.” Though Watanabe published the majority of Hasui Kawase’s prints, Doi, Kawaguchi, Sakai and others published some designs as well.