A very rare edition of Ito Shinsui’s famous “After the bath” print has come up for auction at Floating World Auctions. According to them this print is actually from Shinsui’s teacher, Kaburagi Kiyokata – implying that this was likely a first draft given as a present.
(I would like to thank Floating World Auctions for providing pictures of the backs of their prints. So few auction houses do this and it’s greatly appreciated.)
It’s interesting though, when researching this particular print I came across the same exact print that was sold earlier this year at the Christie’s Japanese and Korean Art auction. (It’s easy to note the identical print as the baren patterns in the background are identical.) It’s also interesting to note that a wormhole on the beauty’s spine has since been repaired. You can see the difference for yourself:
Realizing that the original print went for $18,750 it’s hard to say whether a wormhole repair is worth the new minimum price of $30,000.
Watanabe Print Workshop published Ito Shinsui along with Hiroshi Yoshida, Kawase Hasui, and Torii Kotondo, amongst others. Watanabe effectively cornered the Shin Hanga market allowing many excellent artists to flourish.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see a number of prints at Christies’ Japanese and Korean Art auction. Two of my favorites are, in fact, quite similar to Shinsui’s print.
The first is an exquisite print by Torii Kotondo. I highly recommend opening up the full scan so that you can see all the subtle detail. The colors are absolutely incredible. Many of the outlines are actually not lines at all but embossings from aggressive rubbing on the woodblock. I was hugely impressed by both the quality and the technique presented in this print.
Additionally I was also excited by this print from Utamaro:
With a fascinating composition and excellent design (as is common in Utamaro prints) the pearl mica really makes this print pop out of the page. The clothing is reduced to simple calligraphic lines and the patterns are a mish-mash of color. It’s interesting to see how similar the prints of stunning beauties are even with 130 years between them.