Dubious prints

Case 1

During this study, I found some prints with stylistic features compatible with Sozan’s prints, but with different signatures and / or seals that I could not identify. In some cases it could be plagiarism or knock-off print, as in the case of the two crows on the snow (http://www.ukiyo-e.se/), very similar to the WT-10 and its pre-quake version TA-19.

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A more complex case is the following:

This print appears on Ebay 10/20/2015 sold as a print by Sozan or Suizan, publisher Watanabe.

A similar specimen was sold by Denhams auction, GB on 03/28/2018, along with Sozan’s TA-10.

Coincidence? If the prints both come from Watanabe’s shop, finding on the back the numbers printed by Watanabe would confirm it. The seal is not a Sozan seal, obviously, but the style is similar.

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I found two other prints with the same seal and, in one case, also the signature.

“Two egrets and iris” is fully in the style of Sozan (image source: Richard Reader), but it is the other on the right, “Peacock on branch” which raises more questions.

This peacock print could be a copy of WT-13 (plagiarism or knock-off print), if it were dated after 1926.  This work was presented at the exhibition entitled “Impressions of the Natural World: Japanese Prints from the Special Collections Division” at the Newark Public Library (Newark, NJ, USA) from April 18 to August 30, 2016 with the following caption: ” Kosei. (Japanese, active 20th century). Peacock, no date. Woodblock print “. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx A similar copy was sold by Jasper52 auction on 3 September 2017. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I know only one Shin Hanga artist, Shibagaki Kosei, known for a single work, whose signature and seal is however quite different. There is also a Kosei, Japanese, active late 19th century at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Enomoto Kosei, a much more recent author.  So, who is the author of this peacock and the other two prints?

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Case 3

The appearance on ebay of a print featuring two cranes attributed to Ogura Ryuson and presenting Sozan seal type 22/23 (front bull) and the writing “Made in Japan # 486” on the back, made me immediately think of Sozan, despite the signature was different. There is also a variant, perhaps earlier, which has a bamboo curtain in the background that occupies the whole field, while the specimen in question, has only three bamboos on the left. The seal corresponds to the bull with the erect head (Sozan seal type 21).  Both prints are present in Muller collection at  Freer & Sackler Collection (Washington, USA).

Although the signature is legible as Ryuji, Takaharu or Takaji “隆 治” according to Japanese collector Tosh Doi or as Ryuson from Shimizu Motoko of the Freer & Sackler Collection (Washington, USA), this subject cannot be attributed to Ogura Ryuson, active around the 1880 at the time of Kiyochika and Yasuji.

A similar specimen was presented by the Zacke Gallery, Wienna, in 1993, attributed to Takaharu.

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