Shoson (1877-1945)

Pair of White Swans

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Shoson (1877-1945)
Pair of White Swans
Woodblock Print
14.25" x 9.25"
Very good color, impression and state. This print is sold framed in a handmade walnut frame with UF3 plexi and an acid free mat.


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Watanabe Shozaburo

About the art

A pair of swans, symbolizing fidelity and monogamy, glide with grace through the dark water. A bankside bamboo plant dips down to touch the surface, and the light embossing on the bodies of the swans provides subtle texture and visual interest. Most impressive, however, is the ingenious use of line work in the reflections of the birds in the water’s surface, suggesting both the movement of their bodies and the quality of the water.


About the artist

Shoson (aka Koson or Hoson) was born in Kanazawa with the given name Matao Ohara. He began his artistic career studying painting under the Shijo-style master Kason. Around the turn of the century, Koson became a teacher at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, where he met Ernest Fenollosa, an American collector, scholar and admirer of Japanese art and culture. Around 1905, Koson started to produce woodblock prints. Fenollosa, the curator of Japanese Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and an adviser to the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, persuaded Koson to export his bird prints to American art collectors. Between 1900 and 1912 Koson designed mostly kacho-e (bird-and-flower pictures), but also a few Russo-Japanese War prints and genre landscapes.


Around 1911, Koson assumed the name “Shoson” and rededicated himself to painting, ceasing printmaking. He returned to printmaking ten years later. By 1926, he met Watanabe and produced prints for him under the name Shoson. Koson changed his name once again, this time to Hoson, when he produced designs collaboratively published by Sakai and Kawaguchi. As Koson used numerous names and seals over the years, dating his work can be difficult. Some of his prints were published in different editions with variations in colors. Koson’s earliest and most coveted designs are notable for their narrow formats and soft colors. His reverence for the natural world is apparent in his meticulous detail and unfailing verisimilitude, yielding designs of an unmatched intimate beauty.

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