Artist: Takahashi Shotie (Hiroaki)
Title: Sawatari in Joshu District
Date: 1936, published by Watanabe, 1936 Watanabe Catalog No: 211
Size: approx. 6.8" x 15.1"
Condition: VG with no flaws, uncirculated print, never framed
Impression: VG, extensive gauffrage (embossing) to the snow areas on the trees, excellent registration, solid key lines
Color: VG, deep saturated color and bleed through to verso, goffun used to create dimensional snowflake effect
Provenance: from the Robert O. Muller Collection
About Takahashi Shotei (1871-1945)
Shotei was born in Tokyo with the given name of Takahashi Katsutaro. His early artistic training was given by his uncle, Matsumoto Fuko, who taught the young Shotei nihon-ga, the traditional Japanese painting style. Around 1907, Shotei was recruited to design woodblock prints by the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo. Watanabe's prints were primarily designed for export to the West, where the demand for all things Japanese was high in the early 20th century. By 1923 Shotei had produced nearly 500 designs for Watanabe, when Tokyo was hit by the Great Kanto earthquake – the worst recorded natural catastrophe in the history of Japan. The fires ignited by the earthquake raged for three days, and Watanabe's print shop and all the woodblocks created by Shotei and the other early shin hanga artists, were destroyed.
After the earthquake Shotei created another 250 prints mostly depicting scenic Japanese landscapes in the shin hanga style that he had helped to define. He continued to work for Watanabe, but also worked with the publishers Fusui Gabo and Shobido Tanaka, where he had more control over the finished print than was possible with Watanabe. Shotei used a variety of names, signatures and seals during his lifetime. From 1907 until 1922 he used the name Shotei, and after 1922 Hiroaki and Komei.