|Artist||Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)|
|Published||1933 (c. 1946 impression)|
|Dimensions||Ôban tate-e [~15.6 x 10.7 inches]|
Artist Signature: Hasui with Kawase seal
Publisher: Watanabe Shôzaburô
Publisher Seal: Round Watanabe 6mm
Reference: Brown, Kendall: Amy Regeigle Newland, Kawase, Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints, Amsterdam, Hotei Publishing, KIT Publishers, 2008, vol. 1, p. 463, pl. 340.
A vibrant print of Kencho Temple on a sunny day. The temple is seen to the left of the scene, a small row of sapling trees are in front. The light and shadow from nearby trees and the sunlight creates patterns on the temple, a single bird flies over the roof.
Kawasi Hasui (1883-1957) was the greatest of the shin-hanga printmakers and has become recognised as the best Japanese landscape artist since Hiroshige. In 1956, he was named a Living National Treasure in Japan, the highest honour a living artist could receive at the time. During his career he produced over 600 landscape prints, including seventeen series, covering most areas of Japan, in which he extensively travelled. Hasui was born as Kawase Bunjiro in Tokyo. His family owned a braided cord business in which Hasui worked in until his sister and her husband took over in 1908. Free of family responsibilities, Hasui could finally devote himself to art, which he had been passionate about since he was a child. In 1907 he began studying western-style art, especially landscape, at the Hakuba-kai (White Horse Society) and took guidance from Okada Saburosuke (1869-1939). In 1910 he became a pupil of Kaburaki Kiyokata who gave him the art name Hasui. At this time he earned his living through designing sashi-e, magazine illustrations, posters and patterns for sashes. Through Kiyokata he was introduced to Shōzaburō Watanabe who published his first landscape prints in 1918-19. Watanabe was the driving force of the shin-hanga movement and encouraged, supported, and promoted Hasui's career in Japan and abroad. From then on Hasui worked very extensively as a designer of landscape prints for Watanabe, and from almost the beginning inspired the carvers and printers to produce newer and subtler efforts, especially in the expression of snow. After the 1923 earthquake, in which he lost his house and his sketchbooks and almost all of his woodblocks, he was financed by Watanabe to go on a sketching trip to produce more series, and also worked occasionally for other publishers to eke out his income. Through the rest of his life, Hasui worked almost exclusively on landscape and townscape prints based on sketches he made in Tokyo and during travels around Japan. The vast majority of Hasui's prints were published by Watanabe Shozaburo, although he also occasionally worked with other publishers, including Doi Teiichi and Kawaguchi & Sakai.