Plum, Nishinotoin Shigeko
By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
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Medium: woodblock, woodcut/woodblock/ukiyo-e
Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 36 by 24.1 cm
Price: $1100 (excl. taxes)
From the series "Beauties and Seven Daytime Flowers,", signed oju Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Taiso, carved by Katata Hori Cho, date seal Meiji juichinen, shigatsu, -ka (Meiji 11 , April), and publisher's address seal [Tokyo] Nihonbashi Otenmacho Nichome 14-banchi, shuppanjin Inoue Mohei (Inoue Mohei of Hoeido)
oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 1/2 in., 36 by 24.1 cm
Shogoi (Senior Fifth Rank) Nishinotoin Shigeko, a Lady-in-Waiting for the Empress, composes a poem while seated before a cascade of blossoming plum branches.
Beauties and Seven Daytime Flowers (Bijin shichi yoka) presented beautiful women of the Imperial court paired with large details of flowers. The bijin were identified by their rank, and the prints were produced utilizing vibrant pigments which were newly available after Japan opened its ports to the international trade. The synthetic dyes used for textiles and print production which first appeared on the market in the mid-1860s provided an inexpensive way to render what were previously exorbitantly expensive colors - most specifically in the range from red to purple. By the early 1870s publishers increasingly employed a saturated red pigment called carmine lake which was derived from crushed cochineal bugs, and by 1877 a new aniline dye called eosin red was introduced to great dramatic effect, as evidenced by this lush series of beauties from the court. Prints emphasizing reds and purples were particularly evident among kaika-e (lit. 'enlightenment pictures') reveling in the rapid Westernization of society. Later the term aka-e (lit. 'red pictures' - previously referred to all-red prints designed as talisman to ward off small pox) was used to encompass prints from this period reflecting the vogue for reds which were likewise associated with the modernization of Japan in general and Emperor Meiji and his family in particular.
Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 58