BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED MID-19TH CENTURY JAPANESE BOOKS, WITH WONDERFUL ILLUSTRATIONS BY HOKUSAI
TAKAI, Ranzan. Toshisen Ehon. Japan: Shimbei Kobayashi, circa 1833. 35 volumes. Octavo, original patterned rice paper wrappers, bound with silk cord. Housed in custom wooden display box. $7800.
Early editions of this beautifully illustrated set of Chinese T’ang poetry with 10 volumes illustrated by Hokusai.
Created during a period when Chinese poetry enjoyed great popularity in Japan, this edition of Toshisen features Japanese illustrators’ re-interpretations of the Chinese illustrations. Some artists deliberately copied the Chinese illustrations of such works, in an effort at faithful reproduction. However, “the greatest of the later Japanese artists who pictorially interpreted such Chinese works as the Suikoden and the Toshisen was Hokusai, but he evolved his own kind of characteristically individual ‘Chinoiserie’, which owed little or nothing to the Ming artists and their Japanese copyists” (Hillier, 87). Hokusai, best known for his woodblock prints, such as the “36 Views of Mt. Fuji” series, was best known in his own time for his expertise in Chinese painting. All 35 volumes, (divided into series of five volumes each) are profusely illustrated, but Hokusai’s 10 volumes are the most famous and sought after—in this set, these are the volumes in the brown wrappers and the gray wrappers. Woodblocks cut by Sugita Kinnosuke. With all colophons.
Illustrations crisp and fine. Original wrappers and title labels fine. A lovely set in custom wooden box.