Takeuchi Seihō: Seihō's Masterpieces, 1937-1942

Seihō's Masterpieces (栖鳳逸品集 Seihō's ippin shū) consists of sixty-six limited edition prints issued by Unsōdō Publishing over five years, beginning in April 1937 and ending in June 1942, produced from drawings made by the Kyoto artist Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942). Using multiple printing techniques such as color woodblock and collotype, Unsōdō spared no effort in faithfully rendering into large-format prints Seihō’s watercolor and ink drawings.1 Seiho's Masterpieces includes scenes from the artist's travels to South China in 1921-1922, renderings of animals (domestic and wild), still-lifes of fish and flora, depictions of cultural events such as festival floats and kabuki, and landscapes of the Japanese countryside, including two prints depicting Mt. Fuji. While there are no historical records explaining how this project came about2, other than the 1937 Preface to Set One and the 1940 Publisher's Foreword to Set Two, it is reasonable to assume, given the artist’s declining health when the series was started in 1937 and his receipt of the Order of Culture in early 1937, that it was truly intended by his long-time publisher Unsōdō (and likely the artist himself) as an “elegy and a testament” to one of the greatest painters and teachers of his time.3

Displayed below are images of all sixty-six prints, part of the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, along with their titles and dimensions.4  Prints that are also part of this collection carry their catalogue number below their image. To my knowledge, this is the first time images of all the prints from Seihō's Masterpieces have been presented.

Following the images of the prints additional details on the series are provided.


1 As the original drawings have been lost or destroyed we can only infer from the prints which media were used by Seihō to create the original drawings.

2 Any existing documentation was lost when the publisher’s Tokyo office, where the prints were made, was bombed and destroyed during WWII.

3 Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan, Roger S. Keyes, The University of Washington Press with the New York Public Library, December 2006, p. 252 (text reproduced below.)

4 All dimensions are of the print's paper size not including the backing sheet. 

Set One Consisting of Thirty-one Prints

Issued between April 1937 and December 1938

Preface - Contained in Envelope 1 of Set One

Dated 昭和十二年卯月 [Showa 12 (1937),

uzuki (4th month of the Lunar calendar)]

Colophon for Envelope 1 of Set One

Issued April 20, 1937

Date of issue reads Showa 12 (1937), 4th month, 20th day

Date of printing reads Showa 12 (1937), 4th month, 19th day

海魚 (ぐぢ)

kaigyo 

Ocean Fish (tilefish)

14 1/2 x 18 7/8 in. (36.8 x 47.9 cm)


水墨雨後

Ink Painting, After the Rain

12 1/2 x 15 5/8 in. (31.8 x 32.1 cm)

IHL Cat. #916






惜春

sekishun

Spring is Over

14 1/8 x 4 5/8 in. (35.9 x 11.7 cm)

IHL Cat. #897

Colophon for Envelope 2 of Set One

Issued July 25, 1937

Date of issue reads Showa 12 (1937), 7th month, 25th day

Date of printing reads Showa 12 (1937), 7th month, 15th day

紅富士

Pink Fuji

14 1/4 x 16 1/8 in. (36.2 x 41 cm)


水風清

Wind and Clear Water

10 x 10 5/8 in. (25.4 x 27 cm)

IHL Cat. #874

眠鷺

Sleeping Heron

15 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (39.1 x 13.7 cm)

IHL Cat. #898


水墨山水

Suiboku Sansui

Ink Painting, Landscape

12 3/4 x 14 1/8 in. (32.4 x 35.9 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 3 of Set One

August 25, 1937

Date of issue reads Showa 12 (1937), 8th month, 25th day

Date of printing reads Showa 12 (1937), 8th month, 19th day

たまり水

mizutamari

Puddle

18 3/4 x 14 1/4 in. (47.6 x 36.2 cm)

滿林秋色

shusshoku

Woods in Full Autumn Color

14 1/4 x 15 1/2 in. (36.2 x 39.4 cm)


平潮

Slack Tide

10 5/8 x 14 1/4 in. (27 x 36.2 cm )

IHL Cat. #876

Colophon for Envelope 4 of Set One

December 5, 1937

Date of issue reads Showa 12 (1937), 12th month, 5th day

Date of printing reads Showa 12 (1937), 12th month, 1st day

しぶ柿

shibugaki

Dried Persimmons

14 3/16 x 4 3/4 in. (36 x 12.1 cm)

水郷

Beautiful Riverside Village

IHL Cat. #815

15 x 18 5/8 in. (38.1 x 47.3 cm)


蟠蛇

Coiled Serpant

14 3/8 x 17 3/8 in. (36.5 x 44.1 cm)

IHL Cat. #899

Colophon for Envelope 5 of Set One

February 20, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 2nd month, 20th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 2nd month, 15th day

水風清 (部分)

Wind and Clear Water (detail)

10 1/2 x 14 5/8 in. (26.7 x 34.1 cm)

IHL Cat. #875


夏霞

Summer Haze

11 1/4 x 16 1/8 in. (36.2 x 41 cm)




椿

tsubaki

Camellia

15 1/16 x 18 1/2 in. (38.3 x 47 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 6 of Set One

March 25, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 3rd month, 25th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 3rd month, 20th day

鮮魚 (鯖)

senyo saba

Fresh Fish (mackerel)

14 1/8 x 15 5/8 in. (35.9 x 39.7 cm)

IHL Cat.#918


南支風光

South China Scenery

11 3/16 x 16 1/8 in. (28.4 x 41 cm)




浪花舞燕

Swallow flitting above the waves

13 7/16 x 16 1/4 in. (13.4 x 41.3 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 7 of Set One

April 20, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 4th month, 20th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 4th month, 15th day

武惡

Evil Warrior

15 3/16 x 13 1/2 in. (38.6 x 34.3 cm)


水墨山水

suiboku sansui

Ink Painting, Landscape

12 5/8 x 14 9/16 in. (32.1 x 37 cm)







家鴨

ahiru

Domestic Duck

15 x 18 1/2 in. (38.1 x 47 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 8 of Set One

July 25, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 7th month, 25th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 7th month, 20th day

秋興

shūkyō

The Pleasantness of Autumn

14 7/8 x 18 3/4 in. (37.8 x 47.6 cm)


潮來

Itako

13 15/16 x 18 3/16 (35.4 x 46.2 cm)




黃初平

Wong Cho Ping

15 x 16 7/8 in. (38.1 x 42.9 cm)

IHL Cat. #913

Colophon for Envelope 9 of Set One

November 10, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 11th month, 10th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 11th month, 5th day

梅雨時

tsuyudoki

Rainy Season

15 1/8 x 17 1/2 in. (38.4 x 44.5 cm)


枯木吟猿

Singing Monkey on a Bare Tree

15 x 18 3/16 in. (38.1 x 46.7 cm)

IHL Cat. #915

雄姿颯爽

yūshi sassō

Gallant and Dashing

18 7/8 x 15 1/8 in. (47.9 x 38.4 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 10 of Set One

December 12, 1938

Date of issue reads Showa 13 (1938), 12th month, 15th day

Date of printing reads Showa 13 (1938), 11th month, 20th day 

狗子

Puppy

15 3/16 x 18 5/8 in. (38.6 x 47.3 cm)

IHL Cat. #914


祇園祭

Gionmatsuri

Gion Festival

10 x 14 3/8 in. (25.4 x 36.5 cm)



水墨山水

suiboku sansui

Ink Painting, Landscape

13 3/4 x 13 3/8 in. (34.9 x 34 cm)

Set Two Consisting of Thirty-five Prints

Issued between January 1940 and June 1942

Colophon for Envelope 1 of Set Two

January 1940

-picture not available-

Original Preface included in Set Two

(first released with Set One in April 1937)

Publisher's Foreword

[dated Kigen 2600 (2600th year of the Imperial Era)]

Table of Contents Set 2

西郊

seikou

Fields in Springtime

15 5/16 x 17 11/16 (38.9 x 44.9 cm)

溪村晩霽

Clear Night in Tanimura

12 1/4 x 11 3/8 in. (31.1 x 28.9 cm)

じろ柿

shiro kaki

Dried (white) Persimmon

10 15/16 x 9 11/16 (27.8 x 24.6 cm)

IHL Cat. #908

起上刂

okiagari

Pop-up Doll

10 7/8 x 9 3/4 (27.6 x 24.8 cm)

IHL Cat. #919

Colophon for Envelope 2 of Set Two

April 25, 1940

Date of issue reads Showa 15 (1940), 4th month, 25th day

Date of printing reads Showa 15 (1940), 4th month, 20th day

山村の花

sanson no hana

Mountain Village Flowers

15 1/8 x 16 7/8 in. (38.4 x 42.9 cm)


冬日村居

Winter Day in the Village

13 x 14 7/8 in. (33 x 37.8 cm)

IHL Cat. #911 

釜ほい山

Kama-hori, Yama (float)

15 x 18 3/4 in. (38.1 x 47.6 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 3 of Set Two

September 20, 1940

Date of issue reads Showa 15 (1940), 9th month, 20th day

Date of printing reads Showa 15 (1940), 9th month, 15th day

江南風色

River Breeze

18 1/4 x 10 11/16 in. (26 x 27.1 cm )

IHL Cat. #843

旅窗漫筆

Sketches from a Window while Traveling

18 9/16 x 14 3/8 in. (47.1 x 36.5 cm)

IHL Cat. #912


殘夢

Remnant of a Dream

15 1/4 x 18 3/4 in. (38.7 x 47.6 cm)

Colophon for Envelope 4 of Set Two

January 5, 1941