Original Tomioka Eisen (1864 - 1905) Japanese Woodblock Print
My Crime, Volume 1 Kuchi-e Print, 1900
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 typically have one or two folds because of their use.
Much interest has been generated in the subject since the publication in 2000 of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture." Kuchi-e prints have become highly sought after and collected by the serious collector.
Comments - Poignant kuchi-e illustration for the first volume of the novel "My Crime" (Ono ga tsumi) by Kikuchi Yuho, which appeared in two volumes in 1900 and 1901. The young student Tamaki walks through the street under an umbrella, lost in her thoughts. She has been seduced by a medical student, finding herself pregnant, but her lover has instead married the beauty who walks confidently into the scene at right. Tamaki's expression is one of deep sorrow and shame, her eyes downcast, completely unaware of her surroundings. She wears a finely patterned light blue kimono tied with a black obi embellished with silver mica waves. Her hair is pulled into a soft bun adorned with a red lacquer comb and ribbon. A moving, expressive portrait, with subtle burnishing on the hair. This image appears on page 94 of Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada's book, "Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints: Reflections of Meiji Culture."
Artist - Tomioka Eisen (1864 - 1905)
Image Size - 8 1/2" x 11 1/2"
Condition - This print with excellent color and detail as shown. Vertical folds, diagonal fold at corner. Thinning on reverse at corners from previous mounting, repaired. Slight toning, soiling, and creasing, a few spots. Please see photos for details.