Talk Around Town

from the Righteous Samurai Collection, 1920

by Itō Shinsui

IHL Cat. #2304


The fifteenth print appearing in Volume 4 of Gishi taikan, edited by Fukumoto Nichinan. 

Fukmoto relates in his commentary that the print depicts the "morning after the attack on Kira’s mansion and the good news has spread like wildfire across the city of Edo. The kawaraban (single page newspaper) were quick to print the news and sell it loudly at every street corner, with men and women, young and old, coming out to read the report. They were shocked and filled with admiration and the city was in an uproar." 

Source: my translation of the beginning of Fukumoto's commentary (see detail below.)

Print Details

click on image to enlarge artist signature and seals

click on image to enlarge

Tribute Preceding Print by

Hosokawa Junjirō

細川潤次 (1834-1923),

legal scholar and bureaucrat

from Volume 4 of Gishi Taikan

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal Database, Art Research Center AkoRH-R0419-4

click on image to enlarge

Print Commentary from Volume 4 of Gishi Taikan


【圖は、一黨の吉良邸討入の翌朝となるや, 快報は忽ち稻妻の如く江戸市中に喧傳され, 當時の瓦版にて (今の新聞なり) 逸早く之を刷立て其呼賣は到る處の辻々に大聲を發して概要を讀上ぐるを聽かんと, 老若男女我も〱と驅出して之を求め, 驚愕と感歎の聲を以て滿たされ, 市中は宛然煮返る如?騒ぎであつた.   

image source: The Early Japanese Book Portal

Database, Art Research Center


Artist Profile

Itō Shinsui 伊東深水 (1898-1972)

Born in the Fukagawa area of Tokyo, Shinsui had to start work with the Tokyo Printing Company in 1910 because of his family's poverty. In 1911 he had already developed an interest in art and studied nihonga (Japanese-style painting) as well as continuing his education in the evenings. The 'Nihonga' artist Yuki Somei (1875-1957) introduced him to nihonga painter Kaburaki Kiyokata (1879-1973) who accepted him as a pupil. 

Shinsui's painting skill was shown by his winning prizes in 1912 at the exhibition of the Tatsumi Gakai (South-west Painting Society, Tokyo), in 1914 at the first Inten (Japan Art Institute Exhibition), and in 1915 at the annual Bunten (Ministry of Education Exhibition). This skill attracted the attention of the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo in 1916 when he saw the artist's painting 'Before the Mirror'. With Kiyokata's consent he persuaded the young artist to begin to design works for him to produce as woodblocks in the shin hanga style. While initially designing landscape prints for Watanabe, he later specialized in prints of beautiful women (bijinga). 

In 1927, he founded his own academy of painting, the Shinsui Gakujuku (Shinsui Academy) which moved in 1930 being renamed Roho Gakujuku (Academy of the Clear Peak). Attracting many pupils Shinsui spawned a next generation of nihonga artists specializing in bijinga. An activist in art circles and government art institutions, Shinsui founded several societies, including the Seisei-kai in 1932 devoted to realism in portraiture, and the Seikin-kai in 1940, with Yamakawa Shuho (1898-1944), which had similar aims. His many portraits of women in up-to-date Westernized fashions and hair-styles in the 1950s and 60s bear witness to his determination to keep 'Nihonga' modernized. 

After the war Shinsui designed only a handful of prints, one of them ('Tresses', 1953) being published by the Japanese government which designated his skills as a print artist an 'Intangible Cultural Asset'. In 1958 he became a member of the Japanese Academy of Arts. His paintings include folding screens and albums as well as hanging scrolls, and he was equally at home on paper or silk, and in female subjects drawn from high or bourgeois life, the traditional dance forms, geishas, or the theatre. 

Source: website of The British Museum