Original Meiji era Japanese Woodblock Print
Beauty Reading and Lion Kuchi-e
The Kuchi-e Tradition - Kuchi-e prints are woodblock frontispiece illustrations used in the publication of Japanese novels and magazines around the turn of the 20th century. Most kuchi-e prints were illustrations of bijin and continued the tradition of idealized beauties in Japanese art. The subjects, however, have a decidedly Meiji era feel about them and reflect the artistic movement towards more western design. Kuchi-e prints typcially have one or two vertical folds, because of their insertion in a magazine or book as an illustrative print.
Much interest has been generated in the subject since the publication in 2000 of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's groundbreaking book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture." Kuchi-e prints have become highly sought after and collected by the serious collector.
Comments - Fantastic kuchi-e print depicting a beauty reading a letter in an inset at upper left with a fierce lion at right. The figure is set off by a deep orange background, and the letter and her long sleeve extend past the edge of the inset as if fluttering in the wind of the stormy scene below. The lion leaps forward as gusts of wind sweep leaves and debris across the dark sky, its mouth open as it roars. A dynamic, dramatic design, and the first time we've come across this kuchi-e subject.
Artist - Meiji era artist (unsigned)
Image Size - 8 5/8" x 12" + right margin as shown
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Vertical folds, folds at corners. A couple tears at edges, repaired. Slight creasing at edges. Please see photos for details.