Introduction and acknowledgments
My name is Mauro Novelli. I am an Italian biologist, researcher at the University of Turin, recently retired. Multiple naturalistic interests and the admiration for Ukiyo-e Japanese engravers like Hiroshige and Hokusai led me to collecting Japanese Kacho-ga prints. From the latter artists to the works of Ohara Koson and the Shin Hanga period, it’s a short step.
The Koson catalog by Amy Reigle Newland (2009), with few information about Ito Sozan, was then the input that convinced me to gather all the information I could about Sozan and his prints. The mystery that surrounds this artist will certainly not be solved by my catalog, but I hope that this work can help to put order in Sozan prints and invite Japanese woodblock fans to increase it.
Therefore, this catalog should not be understood as a critical review of Ito Sozan’s prints, since I do not have the skills or the culture necessary for this purpose, but a simple list of all the prints found on the web, in various museum sites or public collections and in online auction sites, including Ebay, in addition to the prints in my personal collection.
In order to write these notes, I am grateful to the many people who gave me information, as curators of museums or important collections such as Shimizu Motoko, Berry Jennifer and Grace Cory for the Robert Muller collection at the Freer & Sackler Gallery in Washington, USA; Stephen Salel for the collections of James A. Michener and Philip H. Roach, Jr. at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii, USA; Andrew R. Stevens for the Edvard Burr Van Vleck collection at the Chazen Museum, Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Alison Huftalen and Courtney Macklin for the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, USA; Stephen Topfer for The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Hisao Shimizu for the Chiba City Museum, Tokyo, Japan or collectors like Toshikazu Doi from Tokyo or Pietro Gobbi from Turin. Thanks also to Richard J. Reader, founder of the site http://readercollection.com, an enthusiastic scholar of flowers and birds in Japanese graphic art.
I am grateful in particular to Marc Kahn (Vancouver, USA) for the exchange of emails and information, but above all for having made available to everyone, through a dedicated website (www.shotei.com), his knowledge on Takahashi / Hiroaki Shotei. His site has been a source of useful information about the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo and Ito Sozan himself. At Shotei.com I was freely inspired.
Last but not least, I am grateful to my friend Antonino Mannone, Turin, Italy, who shared with me many moments of discussion about the prints of Ito Sozan and Ohara Koson.
I hope that prints collectors of Shin Hanga period, of Ito Sozan in particular, or the unaware owners of some of the Sozan prints listed or not present in this site, can contact me to improve my catalog. Ito Sozan is, in my opinion, worthy of being placed next to the most famous Shin Hanga artists like Ohara Koson, Yamamoto Shoun, Imao Keinen, etc. So, please write to me at email@example.com. I will be happy to answer to all of you thanking for the contribution you will give to this work.
I decided to write this catalog in English, rather than in Italian, my mother tongue, to encourage the spread of my knowledge about Ito Sozan. I apologize for the poor quality of English which I hope to improve with time.
Copyright: 2020 by Mauro Novelli; All Rights Reserved