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Surimono: 'The Tale of the Wild Mountain Witch Woman' Date:1827

It depicts a painting of the Mountain Witch 'Yama-uba', by Hokkei (who is purported to be the best student of Hokusai of 'Great Wave' fame.) The witch is cloaked in leaves, lying by a rushing stream, behind her head lies an oversized ax, which belongs to her son "Kintoki', the child 'Heracles' of Japanese legend. He is depicted in another surimono print. The tale is a fascinating read (...more information provided on the verso). Surimono are small prints that were originally meant to be invitation cards for a gathering at poetry clubs, mostly in and around Edo (Tokyo). They were designed by many great artists at the beginning of the 19th century and were mostly printed with great care. Surimono often had a poem on the front and sometimes a hint towards the season. They were private issues, without censorship seals. They were smaller, the quality of the prints was better and the designs were real examples of miniature art. The surimono was the ultimate medium for the artist (designer, woodcutter and printer) to show his mastership. Hokkei, like many of his contemporaries worked with Poetry Clubs designing surimono prints for their poetry and often the art was specific to the poem and usually complimentary. Translation of poetry can sometimes be found, and this one speaks of the witch's powers over men and beast. There are several paper sizes known, but a surimono is never bigger than a normal (western) book and seldom smaller than a postcard. This surimono print first published c1827 is a beautiful example of an art form that has withstood the test of time. This edition likely dates to c1880s, when the foreign market interest was high, and the quantities were low. The artwork shows very rich color with wonderful use of metallic mica pigments in gold and silver. This print is in very fine condition. True surimono prints are exceedingly rare. This surimono print, which floats on its black ground measures about 8.25" x 7.25". It is matted in ivory. The gold tone frame measures 15" x 13.5".  P4752                         $435.00

Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850) Surimono: The Tale of Wild Mountain Witch

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