In the old “Dubious prints” section, I had already presented three prints referable to an elusive “Kosei”.
The name Kosei is referring to a print presented at the exhibition “Impressions of the Natural World: Japanese Prints from the Special Collections Division”, 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 “ (here as Kōsei-01).
Recently I have identified in the very rich collection of Japanese woodblock prints of Honolulu Museum of Arts (HOMA) the other print, my case 2 in the old “dubious print” section (here as Kōsei-02), attributed to “Kosho”.
I thank Stephen Salel, curator of Japanese Art at HOMA, for studying the seal of this print and the signature on “Peacock”. Although cursive characters in kanji are often difficult to identify, it is his opinion that the signature and seal should read as Kōto (鴻 都). These were the data available to me in December 2022 and “Kosei” was therefore referred to as “Koto” in the previous version of this text.
However, I had the opportunity to examine in January 2023 the only extant copy (to my knowledge) of the volume “Catalogue of Japanese color prints / the Nishikiye Sha”, written by Eizō Kondō probably in 1917. This volume is part of the Freer Sackler Main Collection at the Smithsonian Libraries (Washington DC, USA). I thank Reiko Yoshimura, head librarian of the Smithsonian Libraries for her kind cooperation and for all the suggestions about Kōsei that she has given me.
In the Nishikiye-Sha catalogue, the artist “Kosei” is mentioned on page 22 with the work n. 1138: “A green peacock”, illustrated in a following table.
Over the years I have discovered two other prints with the same seal for a total of 5 and 3 Watanabe numbers on the back.
I can also state that the Peacock (Kōsei-01) is not a Sōzan knock-off as it predates WT-13.
The fact that Kōsei-01 may be a pre-earthquake version of Sōzan’s WT-13 and the style, identical to that of Sozan, makes me think that Kōsei is one of the many house names imposed by Watanabe on his artists and therefore Kōsei is ultimately Ito Sozan.
However, having no other information on the matter, I prefer to leave Kōsei separated from Sozan for the moment.
Copyright: 2022 by Mauro Novelli; All Rights Reserved