Little known artists published by Watanabe Shōzaburō

While researching Ito Sōzan’s prints, I came across some little-known artists who worked for the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo before the Great Earhtquake (1923). I have already talked about some of their prints in a section that I called “Dubious prints”.  After much thought and acquiring new material, I decided to drop the “Dubious print” section and create these new pages instead.

“Dubious print” is however still visible here.

As is known, Watanabe began his activity as a publisher in 1907 with the collaboration of Shotei for landscape prints and Ito Sōzan in 1908 for kacho-ga subject prints. Many other famous artists joined Watanabe’s team between 1915 and 1920: Fritz Capelari (1915), Charles W. Bartlett and Itō Shinsui (1916), Kawase Hasui (1918), Elizabeth Keith (1919), Yoshida Hiroshi and Yamamura (Kōka) Toyonari (1920).

However, in the period from the beginning of the activity up to the great-kanto in 1923, we find prints, often in the tanzaku or, more rarely, chuban format, by artists with mysterious and difficult to identify names. These names are: Fuyō, Kōto, Ryuji, Shurei, etc. After 1923 we find Eishō, Shinjo, Kyokudo, Shien, Tomoe, etc.

The identification of these artists is often problematic, and not only for Westerners, for the decipherment of their signatures written in cursive kanji. An example is this print on the right wrongly attributed to Ogura Ryuson (pre-quake Watanabe number 486), whose signature has been read as Ryuji, Takaharu, Takaji or Ryuson.

Another example is Shurei, mentioned by distinguished scholars of the Shin Hanga period with the most different given names: Nakagawa, Takeuchi, Nakajima, Yanai or Yauchi.  

So here is the list of little-known artists whose prints I present that I have found in museum collections, among dealers,

or by searching on the web:

Kōsei                    (鴻聲 )                           

Fuyō                     (扶陽)                           

Ryuji                     (隆 治)                           

Shûrei                  (秀嶺 or 雄鶏)               

Narazaki Eishō (Yeishō)  (楢崎栄昭)      

Kyokudo             (極度)     and    Shinjo     (新城)                


Although Narazaki Eisho is well known, I have decided to illustrate his prints in detail


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