Autumn Bonsai (秋の盆栽)

Designer: Mishima Shoso | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Yasue Tsushima

Paper size: 11cm by 15.5cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [HC] ? ( Change currency: $ / £ / )

Price: $ 40.00£ 32.25€ 36.75 [Reprinting]

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Description: This print was included by David in his original Hanga Treasure Chest, published back in 2005. That set is now (nearly) out of print, so the blocks are being used to make issues for the Mokuhankan catalogue. This version has been printed by Ms. Yasue Tsushima, who has been working for Mokuhankan since the summer of 2011.

To introduce the design, perhaps it is easiest to quote the small story written by David for inclusion with the print in the Treasure Chest series:

"I have used a wide variety of source materials for the images in this Treasure Chest series; single sheet prints, woodblock books, painting guides, even a photograph. But so far, I haven't made use of any 'advertising' material in my hunt for interesting images - something that is rectified now, with the inclusion of this pretty little bonsai maple tree.

"In 1882 a German man opened a plant nursery business in Yokohama, exporting Japanese plants to customers overseas. At one point, he had the idea of producing a colour catalogue for customers, one that would give them a basic introduction to the most common flowers and plants in this country. To create this, he enlisted the help of Takejiro Hasegawa, the Meiji-era publisher of a number of books that featured woodblock illustrations combined with Western language texts.

"In the year 1901 they produced a beautiful book - it seems hardly fair to call it a 'catalogue' - illustrating the Japanese 'year' in flowers: The Favorite Flowers of Japan, illustrated by kuchi-e artist Mishima Shoso, with text written by the wife of the nursery owner. Each page of the book went through two completely separate printing processes: the text was done first on a modern letterpress, and the printed sheets (high quality Japanese hosho paper) were then sent to traditional printers to add the illustrations.

"It seems that the book was quite successful, as a number of editions were produced, and it can still be found sometimes in bookshops overseas, although copies in good condition are not cheap at all. I purchased my copy from a dealer in England, and was happy to bring it 'home' back to Japan!

"As I sit and look through this book I can't help but ask why it is no longer possible to create new modern books of this type, but I guess I know the answer - it was only practical when craftsmen's wages were at developing country levels. These days, we have all become so rich ..."

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