Mattia Jona, Master Drawings and Prints, Japanese Prints - Piazzetta Guastalla 5, 20122 Milan, Italy, tel (+39) 02 8053315


Shunman, a lady doing soap bubbles

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KUBO SHUNMAN (1757 - 1820) A LADY DOING SOAP BUBBLES (A 'mitate' of the magician Nyunryu Kosonsho, a character of the celebrated novel 'Suikoden')
Woodcut, small surimono. Red artist's seal 'Shunman'. Fine impression, with silver and gold, good colour, minor creases and small worm-holes, not affecting the printed areas. 195 X 90 mm.
PROVENANCE: Wakai Kenzaburo (1834-1908); Heinz M. Kaempfer (1904-1986).
The category of Japanese woodblock print known as surimono, meaning literally 'printed thing', was distinguished from most of the other prints in several ways: surimono were privately commissioned and distributed rather than being issued by a commercial publisher; they were printed on thicker paper, which facilitated special printing effects; and they were consistently adorned with poems that played games with the links between verbal and visual imagery. By comparison with the usual commercial ukiyo-e prints, surimono were a luxury that displayed the wealth and taste of the individual or individuals who commissioned them. For the artist they represented high-profile commissions executed in close consultation with the leading connoisseurs, poets and actors of the day. Most surimono prints were 'kyoka' surimono, commissioned by members of the large kyoka ('crazy-verse') poetry groups, who would swap surimono at poetry gatherings. Other individuals commissioned surimono as private greeting cards or mementoes of particular events for distribution among their friends or clients. They were often produced at New Year, with suitable poems auguring good luck accompanying seasonal spring imagery or symbols of longevity. Kabuki actors commissioned surimono to distribute among their sponsors and fans. The fans themselves also commissioned surimono to extol the virtues of their favourite actor.

Born in Edo, Shunman originally studied with Kitao Shigemasa and the poet Katori Nahiko. He began designing woodblock prints in the 1780's. During this period he became a judge and leader of the Bakuro Group of kyoka poets. He then gave up commercial print design and devoted himself to painting, the production of poetry albums and surimono. Shunman was skilled in metal inlay and lacquer and there is some evidence that he engraved, and possibly printed, surimono. In the last decades of his life, the 1810s, he was one of the most prolific, original and sophisticated surimono designers.

price: 950,00 euros

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