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If you want to explain to a non-expert of Japanese prints what shin hanga is, show him ten images of landscape prints by Tsuchiya Koitsu. Although Koitsu Tsuchiya is by most not seen as important as Hasui Kawase, you will hardly find another landscape printmaker who incorporates so much the essence of shin hanga like this important Japanese printmaker of the first half of the twentieth century.
First Publication: May 2002
Latest Update: May 2013
Tsuchiya Koitsu (1879-1949) was "discovered" by Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) in whose home he lived for 19 years. Kiyochika was a kind of forerunner for the Japanese shin hanga art movement. From the French impressionists Kobayashi had learned the use of light and shadow and introduced it into the old craft of traditional ukiyo-e. With this effect he could create quite dramatic images.
Tsuchiya Koitsu adopted the technique from his master. But he went a few steps further by making his prints more colorful and by making designs of a romantic kind of "Disneyland Japan" that had little to do with the real Japan of the early twentieth century.
Take all the above features together and you have the qintessence of shin hanga. All you still need are excellent carvers and printers and a smart publisher who has a successful hand in exporting these appealing woodblock prints to North America and Europe. The smart publisher was Shozaburo Watanabe. But that is a different story.
Most of the prints designed by Tsuchiya Koitsu were published by Watanabe Shozaburo. But also Doi Teiichi and others published designs by the artist.
Collectors will find prints made at life time of the artist, but also fresh posthumous prints are still coming into the market. They are printed from the original blocks. This is a common practice that was started by Watanabe Print Shop in the early 1980s for print designs by Hasui Kawase and other shin hanga artists.
These posthumous impressions are known as Heisei editions or atozuri (Japanese: later impressions). But whilst the Watanabe "atozuri" are marked as such on the margins, the late impressions of Tsuchiya Koitsu prints by Doi publisher do not have any stamps or characters that identify them clearly, You have to make a guess from the paper. For expert dealers usually no problem, but for new collectors a nuisance.
As a general advice serious collectors should go for impressions pulled at life time of the artist. But if you want just a beautiful Japanese print to decorate your home, go for a later impression. They are usually cheaper and they are normally in flawless condition on fresh white paper.
Here are a few more of the beautiful and dramatic prints by Tsuchiya Koitsu.
215 sold object(s) by Koitsu Tsuchiya 1870-1949 in our Art Archive
3 signature(s) by Koitsu Tsuchiya in our Signature Database
Author: Dieter Wanczura
.. more about Dieter Wanczura
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