Re:- Stencils, Shigeharu, Quick Change Dance, John Fiorillo ?

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Posted by Arnold Satterthwait on April 29, 2003 at 23:01:33:

In Reply to: Re:- Stencils, Shigeharu, Quick Change Dance, John Fiorillo ? posted by John Fiorillo on April 29, 2003 at 08:53:07:


Thank you for your fine scholarship and lesson on distinguishing the different types of stencil prints. In haste, I underread your description which is very clear. Schwaab in "Osaka Prints" also notes (p18) that there is a record of unsigned stencil prints during the 1820s and 1830s although he indicates that signed stencils and publisher marks are rare. Presumably though as your and Schwaab’s statements imply, unsigned stencils can potentially be attributed to specific artists since the keyblock s were shared with oban nishiki-e.

In any event, I would like to commend stencils to interested readers and collectors. Initially, I was quite unsure whether to make the "investment" but after acquiring the stencil was greatly delighted. The stencil I have shows Haukuen standing upright with ankles crossed, holding a sheathed sword with his right hand while his left hand is crossed over pushing up his right sleeve. Aethestically, it isolates Hakuen (unlike a nishiki-e which can add distractions as in print shown by Keyes) conveying better - let me take a chance - the power and grace of a great dance and dancer. It does not correspond to the additional four dance descriptions that you so kindly provided so the hunt is still on. I’ll try to figure out how to post the images of the two auctioned stencils on your site.

The stencil I have is beautifully printed with an indigo ? (dark blue) keyblock line that is slightly diffused by the soft white paper. The paper itself is a marvel – soft, pliant and clearly ribbed – more clearly visible than with other paper since it the paper is thinner than nishiki-e paper. One wonders if this type of paper may have been developed in collaboraton with publishers for aesthetic reasons. A previous owner had attached it with hinges at its top to a stiffer paper which seems a good idea since one can study it without having to touch the surface. The brushed on colors are likewise beautiful –very mellow due to slightly greater diffusion through this type of paper. Five colors were used (two blues, a dark red, an orange-red and a black filigree pattern on the sword scaber. There is some smearing of the color into clear areas as seen in your enlarged Nagahide sample.

Although nishiki-e eventually replaced stencils, it is now easier for me to understand, if the example I have is representative, why stencils held their own for nearly 50 years and were preferred by at least one artist. The stencils well deserve the scholarship that you and Peter are so ably devoting to them.

Thanks for the addresses . I’ll definitely be ordering the Andon issue. Please continue to correct my misstatements , etc. Greatly appreciated and welcomed by this amateur!


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