Goro Tsuruta was a Japanese painter, printmaker and illustrator. His woodblock prints are rare. Most collectors will hardly have seen more than just two designs by Goro Tsuruta - "Mount Fuji seen from Yoshida" and "Ohira Pass", both published by Kato Junji.
Goro Tsuruta was born in Tokyo. He studied art and later worked at an advertising company. Until 1920 he travelled and worked in Korea and Manchuria. He designed landscape and bijin prints in the 1920s and 1930s that were published by Kato Junji and Sakai Kawaguchi.
The landscape prints are kept in typical shin hanga style and are beautiful. The best-known design is Yoshida Guchi no Fuji, "Mount Fuji seen from Yoshida". The title is not a typo, and should not read ".. seen by Yoshida". It is not about the great printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida. Rather, Yoshida is the name of a small village.
This design can keep up in my humble opinion easily with any design by Hasui Kawase, the great landscape print designer. The way, the team of the artist, the carver and the printer mastered for instance the depiction of the soft clouds around Mount Fuji is technically superb.
Another print design that can be found every now and then, is Ohira Toge, Shinshu. It shows a rainy day at Ohira Pass in Shin-shu province. In contrast to the colorful design of Mount Fuji seen from Yoshida this design is kept in rather subdued colors. It was also published by Kato Junji. Publishing date was 1936.
Below we list two more designs that we have sold since our foundation in 2001. These designs can be regarded as extremely rare. You find the detailed descriptions, large images, and actual prices from our auctions in our archive of sold Japanese prints.
Helen Merritt and Nano Yamada mention in their book Guide to Modern Japanese Wodblock Prints that Goro Tsuruta designed also prints of beautiful women (bijin-ga). Interesting. We at artelino have never seen any. If they do exist - and I have no doubt in Helen Merritt's research - they should be extremely rare.
It confirms an old opinion of mine. There are still many great discoveries to be made in the field of shin hanga. Who knows what treasures may have a dormant existence in some dark and half-forgotten publisher vaults?
Helen Merritt and Nanako Yamada, "Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975", published by University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X.
Author: Dieter Wanczura