Re: Kiyochika Kobayashi print

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Posted by Plasmo ( on December 07, 2018 at 12:15:12:

In Reply to: Kiyochika Kobayashi print posted by Julius on December 06, 2018 at 15:32:51:

1) The characters in the lower left corner indeed give the artist's signature, publisher etc. Your print is signed H˘ensha Kobayashi Kiyochika 方円舎 小林清親 (1847-1915).

The print depicts the scholar and poet Sugawara no Michizane (845-903) during his exile as a govenor of Sanuki province (886-890), situated in modern-day Shikoku. This period turned out to be particularly prolific for his poetry, as he composed many masterpieces during this time of hardship, one of which is presented on this print. You can find the poem in the bigger cartouche in the upper right. It reads as follows:

yoi-no ma-ya よひの間や
miyako-no sora-ni 都の空に
suminu-ran すみぬらん
kokoro-zukushi-no 心つくしの
ariake-no tsuki あり明の月

An attempt at translating the poem might look as follows

"The dawntime moon that is draining its heart has certainly dwelled among the night sky of the capital."

Without a doubt, this poem was composed due to the poets strong longing for the capital which was so far away from him.

2) I was able to identify at least two different versions of this print, which you can see in a comparison above. The upper print (and therefore the one you have posted) appears to be the first edition, which is dated 1884. The lower version is dated 1902 and signed Masao 真生, an alias of Kobayashi.
The stars were surely prone to fade and the quality of the digitized images might also play a role. The major differences between these two print editions seem to be a slightly different color palette and the text in the lower left corner.

3) Traditionally, Kobayashi Kiyochika is not treated as a Shin-hanga artist, being sometimes called the last true Ukiyo-e artist. However, as it is also apparent from the print in question, a play with light, particularly during nighttime scenarios, is a very typical motive on Shin-hanga. Therefore, depending on your exact definition, this print might also be classified as such.

Further reading:

Read more on the artist

Read more on Sugawara no Michizane:

Read more on Shin-hanga

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