A Japanese Woodblock Print by Chinnen Pub. 1829. Edo Period
13 1/2 x 10 1/2 ins. (34.4 x 26.7 cms) This album leaf is taken from one of the masterpieces of Shijo book design, Chinnen's Azuma no Teburi (Customs of the Eastern Capital) published in Bunsei 12 (1829) by Kobayashi Shimbei and Osakaya Gembei of Edo. Some years ago we bought 11 sheets separated from the album and we wish to make it clear that we did NOT break a book for the sheets, something we are virulently opposed to!
In Jack Hillier's seminal work, The Art of the Japanese Book, he has this to say about the album. "... By its title Azuma no teburi set out to analyse the 'manners of the town', 'Azuma' being a name for Edo with a high-sounding, venerable ring, and Chinnen, in the manner of the artists of the nenju-gyoji books ..., picking his way among residents, people busy at their trades and occupations or casual loafers in street or teahouse, varying the scene from main thoroughfare to suburban river-ban, and the weather from the languor of high summer to the violent rainstorm of autumn. Throughout, Chinnen displays a free-and-easy brush-style, and the print-makers closely followed the washes he laid down, giving them a limpidity peculiar to the block-applied colours. There is no word of descriptive text on the prints: the drawings were explicit; each viewer interpreted them according to his own experience and knowledge of the city, though there was a table of contents that gave the locations for those that wished to verify them."
Of the present design he has this to say "One of the finest of the double-page prints is 'The first shrine visit of the New Year', with a group of three figures at the head of a little procession, another man following behind with a boy who bears over his shoulders twigs hung with decorative baubles, the concomitant of the shrine visit. We admire the intimacy and informality of the group of three, whose hoods gave the artist such a wonderful opportunity to show the deftness of his brush in imposing a telling accent to the drawing."
The print is in good condition, there is the expected finger soiling on the lower part, it has been backed many years ago in Japan and there is faint off-setting on the women's head scarves on the right hand half. There are 2 small damp stains which can be seen on the lower part of the photo of the reverse. In its complete state the book is now very expensive, there is an example on sale in the States for $3250. PLEASE NOTE THAT IT IS AN ORIGINAL PRINTING NOT A FACSIMILE OR REPRINT.