春の曙 (Spring Sunrise)

Designer: Gakutei Harunobu | Carver: David Bull | Printer: David Bull

Size: 16.5cm by 22.5cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [M] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 75.00£ 60.75€ 69.00 [Reprinting]

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Description: (Dave’s notes) This image is one that I have been waiting to make ever since I first saw it. I very much like the ‘abstraction’; it has the appearance of modern art, yet was designed all the way back in 1820. The print must have been a commission from a poetry group, and we can safely assume that Gakutei himself was a member of the group, because one of the three poems is signed ‘Shinkado’, one of his poetry names.

One thing giving this print its modern appearance is the fact that no ‘outline’ block is used. In most traditional Japanese prints, outlines of each part of the design are drawn with a brush then cut onto a woodblock. At printing time, this ‘key’ block with the outlines is printed first, and it is then relatively ‘easy’ for the colours to be fitted properly within those lines. But in a design like this, with no black lines to form boundaries between areas of different colours, both carving and printing are much more difficult. The presence of the black outlines on the traditional type of print allows a certain amount of leeway when printing the colours, as slight variations in register are covered up by the black lines; here though, there is nowhere to hide.

A particular feature of this print is the use of metallic ‘pigments’, something not uncommon in the most expensive of the old surimono prints. The people commissioning them were known to have a ‘spare no expense!’ attitude, and this one, with its variety of metals, must have cost them plenty to have produced. We know ... believe us!

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