Posted by Hans Olof Johansson (18.104.22.168) on February 16, 2012 at 13:59:17:
In Reply to: Re: Utamaro prints- one design two sets posted by Anders R on February 16, 2012 at 08:23:59:
If I understand you correctly, you dismiss the theory that these two triptychs could represent two stages in an ongoing production process in Utamaro's lifetime. If one of them, or both are reproductions or fakes, when do you think they could have been produced?
We all seem to agree that, if one of them is an original, it's most likely no. 1500. Apparently, this was purchased for the LoC by Helen Hyde, which would imply a purchase date before 1914, when she moved back to the United States from Japan (http://www.castlefinearts.com/Japanese_fine_arts_woodblock_prints/Helen_Hyde_Biography.aspx?catID=260&Page=2).
The other one, no. 1478, came to the library in 1905 with the Crosby Stuart Noyes Collection.
By 1914 there were possibly a number of companies that had started producing reproductions of old woodblock prints for the tourist trade - Watanabe was founded already in 1906. But I have to say that I haven't seen anything to suggest that there was any significant output of Utamaro reproductions (or outright forgeries) before 1905. I very much doubt that there was a market for them, as there were probably still lots of old prints to be found. As far as I can tell, these were not at all attractive to the Japanese public, who most certainly preferred the fashionable prints of their own time to the stuffy old scenes designed by Utamaro.
Anyway, this is another reason why I'm inclined to accept the theory that these triptychs were both printed in Utamaro's own lifetime or shortly thereafter, though they were obviously printed with different blocks.
However, from your vantage point in Tokyo you may have a different view on these matters?
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