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HASUI - Japanese Woodblock Print - Spring Rain at Sakurada Gate, Tokyo 1952

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HASUI - Japanese Woodblock Print - Spring Rain at Sakurada Gate, Tokyo 1952

KAWASE HASUI

Spring Rain at Sakurada Gate, Tokyo


Date: 1952, published by Watanabe, this is a later printing from the original wood blocks
Size: oban, with full margins, 10.625" X 15.5"
Condition: Fine, no flaws, uncirculated print, never framed
Impression: Fine, solid key lines, nice surface texture, tight registration
Color: Fine, deep saturated color and bleed through to verso
Documentation: Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, Hotei, 2003
SAKURADA GATE was the main gate for Edo Castle, which in its day was the biggest castle in Japan. Today it is among the only traces of Edo Castle remaining along with the stone foundations of the tenshukaku (main tower) and several of structures of the Honmaru (main citadel), Ninomaru (second citadel), and Sannomaru (third citadel), as well as the baileys surrounding them.

The first incarnation of Edo Castle was built in 1457 by Ota Dokan, where the Edo family had constructed their residence in the early twelfth century. It is said that the area comprising the present Hibiya and Marunouchi districts was part of the waterfront and that fishing communities lived there. The place name Edo itself appears to signify that the area had been a fine bay. Renovation and expansion of the castle began 400 years ago, in 1603, when the Tokugawa clan established the seat of the shogunate in Edo, and it grew into Japan's largest castle in 1710. The five-story castle tower stood an impressive 51 meters high and was surrounded by as many as 111 gates. The castle has burned numerous times and was repeatedly reconstructed. In 1863, right before the dissolution of the shogunate, the main palace burned to the ground and was never rebuilt. Today, the portion of the palace grounds now known as Kokyo Higashi Gyoen (Imperial Palace East Garden) is open to the public and is an ideal place to take a stroll.


ABOUT KAWASE HASUI
Kawase Hasui (1883 – 1957) was a Japanese woodblock print maker in the early 20th century. He and Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) are widely regarded as two of the greatest artists of the shin hanga style, and are known especially for their excellent landscape prints. During the forty years of his artistic career, Hasui worked closely with Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962), publisher and advocate of the shin hanga movement. His works became widely known in the West through American connoisseur Robert O. Muller (1911-2003). In 1956, he was named a Living National Treasure in Japan.

Hasui worked almost exclusively on landscape and townscape prints based on sketches he made in Tokyo and during travels around Japan. However, his prints are not merely meisho (famous places) prints that are typical of earlier ukiyo-e masters such as Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Hasui’s prints feature locale that are tranquil and obscure in the then-urbanizing Japan. The dreamlike quality in Hasui’s prints epitomizes a yearning for the past and a preservation of the past in the midst of rapid modernization.


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