Fine Japanese Shijo School Drawing Attrib. Cho Gessho. Edo Period
13 3/8 x 12 ¼ ins. (34 x 31.2 cms) This fine drawing relates to a design in one of the finest Shijo School woodblock printed books, Fugyo Gaso (A Thicket of Pictures) published in Bunka 14 (1817), (see photograph). The artist was Cho Gessho (1772-1832) one of the most important figures in the Shijo school of artists. As can be seen by comparing the drawing with the published book plate, there are great similarities but enough differences to make it unlikely to be a slavish copy by a lesser artist. The attribution of unsigned drawings is always a problem, preparatory sketches would always be unlikely to have been signed and usually such sketches would be vigorous but it would not be necessary for the artist to impart the kind of finish to be expected from a drawing or painting intended to be displayed as a kakemono.
In our opinion the undoubted skill of the artist makes it possible that this was a preparatory sketch for the book design by the artist although it is the nature of such things that it could be open to debate. The drawing remains a fine piece of work, the straining of the wrestlers being particularly well conveyed.
It is in very good condition, with slight scuffing of the surface and a modern backing which has been added in Japan to stabilise the picture