The 1935 "Doll Prints" of Hasui KAWASE
Hasui's "The Japanese Dolls -- Gyoso Ningyo" 24-Print Set" (1935)
Hasui's 24 "Doll Prints"
To collectors of Japanese woodblock prints by the artist KAWASE Hasui, the 24 various "Doll Prints" (done in a "squarish," 9 x 10-ish format) printed in 1935 are quite an unusual novelty. Not only are they seldom encountered, at the same time, little is known of them in the published literature of prints by this outstanding Japanese artist.
Seemingly, little information has been documented regarding these 24 Hasui prints--in fact, surprisingly they are NOT fully listed in the newly released and comprehensive 2003 catalogue raisonné of Hasui's works "Kawase Hasui -- The Complete Woodblock Prints" (by Kendall H. Brown & Shoichiro Watanabe -- Hotei Publishing), where only 20 of the 24 prints are illustrated, all of which are shown only in black and white, and dated simply as "ca1930."
A check of Merritt's "Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975" barely mentions their publisher (Meiji-Shobo), however makes no mention whatsoever of these 24 "Doll Prints" within the comprehensive list of Hasui's lifetime prints.
Fortunately for collectors, we at Ukiyoe-Gallery have just recently come upon an original, complete boxed set of these 24 prints. The remainder of this article will be used to share with our readers what we have learned.
Blue Woodblock-printed Doll Print's Case (1935)
The 1935 Boxed Set of 24 Doll Prints
Seen immediately above are the (folded open) front and backside of the woodblock-printed blue case in which complete sets of the Hasui 24 "doll prints" were sold as "sets." Looking closely, one is struck by the beautiful, natural woodgrain pattern chosen for this cover.
As can now be determined, these 24 prints were published by Meiji-Shobo Publisher of Tokyo (active ca1930-55). Also clearly printed on the case's verso (seen just below) is the publishing date (in western dating) of 1935.
Close-up View of Doll Print's Case (Publisher Meiji-Shobo and 1935 date)
The Title Page, Preface, and Table of Contests Pages
Next shown immediately below are the Title Page, Preface, and Table of Contents pages to this set of Hasui prints. As is immediately apparent, all is printed only in English--clearly intended for a western audience.
Doll Print's Title Page, Preface
Doll Print's Table of Contents
Color Images of the 24 Individual "Doll Prints"
Seen in the following 4 images are color images of all 24 prints of Hasui's "Gyoso Ningyo" prints. They are shown in the same numerical order (left to right) as they correspond to the "Table of Contents" print listing seen above.
Prints #1 to #6
Prints #7 to #12
Prints #13 to #18
Prints #19 to #24
Close-up Examples of Two Prints
To give collectors a better idea of the care and detail which went into the design and printing of these doll prints, we've taken close-up images of two of the 24 prints which are seen just below. They are prints #2 and #3, examples of "Isho-Ningyo" and "Gyosho-Ningyo" dolls respectively. As can be seen, several of these prints employ the use of metallic pigments and other deluxe printing.
Close-Up Views of Two Prints
Although certainly not earthshaking, hopefully this short article will give collectors worldwide some better information regarding the occasionally found "doll prints" which they may encounter.
Clearly not belonging to Hausi's typical oeuvre of landscape prints, these "doll prints" are at once seen as being both delightfully divergent and charming.
Literature (and print) sources used in preparation of this article include:
Above documented "The Japanese Dolls -- Gyoso Ningyo" 24-Print Set"
"Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", by Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X
"Kawase Hasui -- The Complete Woodblock Prints", by Kendall H. Brown & Shoichiro Watanabe, Hotei (KIT) Publishing, Netherlands, ISBN 90-74822-46-0
(c) Thomas Crossland and Dr. Andreas Grund, September 2003
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