Re: identification of artist

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Posted by Philippe Callier on March 31, 1998 at 15:57:07:

In Reply to: identification of artist posted by Jim O'Keefe on March 28, 1998 at 23:43:47:

: Would appreciate any info on woodblock artist
: Shoson, believe modern, small print of bird (egret?)
: and foliage, 3 1/4 by 5 1/4 inches. Signature
: chop in small oval lower right, no other markings.
: A book reference would be gratefully appreciated.

Shoson was born in 1877 and died in 1945. According to Richard Illing in "The Art of Japanese Print", he began signing his work "Shoson" in 1926 (earlier, it was "Koson"). Here is a paragraph on Shoson, quoted from Hugo Munsterberg, "The Japanese Print - A Historical Guide", Weatherhill (New York, Tokyo) 1982: "A very conservative artist, Shoson continues the tradition of bird-and-flower painting as it had first originated in Sung China and then been practiced by many Japanese artists of the Edo period. While the bulk of his output literally depicts all kind of birds and flowers, either together or separately, the term is applied loosely and many include dragonflies and fish as well. (...) His work, which is very decorative and at the same time quite realistic in depicting actual natural forms, enjoyed great popularity, especially among foreign collectors, and is often found in Western museums and illustrated in Western books devoted to Japanese prints." There is a nice illustration of a Shoson bird in Richard Illing's book (and a black and white picture in Munsterberg).
Note that the size of the print you describe is much smaller than the standard sizes for original Japanese prints. The print is likely to be a reproduction for the tourist market and for American military personnel in Japan after WWII to take home as a souvenir. Some of these smaller prints (reproductions or originals) were rather crude trinkets, other are of very high quality (like a reproduction of a Hiroshige rain scene from the Fifty-Three Stations on the Tokaido, which is exactly of the size you give, and which was inserted as illustration into the charming little book "Brocade Pictures of Japan" by Stella Winnia, 1949. The woodblock prints ilustarting this book were produced by Nakamura Roseido of Nagoya.

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