Could someone that knows something about Oriental art give me some help on the size of some original wood prints. I would be most grateful for some help since I am a fine-arts invalid when it comes to this field.....
Thanks... Bruce Matthews
I have no idea what you're talking about. Try asking a more specific question.
BTW, the currently accepted term is 'Asian Art.'
That's pretty ambiguous, Bruce. What do you mean by 'size' or 'Oriental?' There's no 'standard' size for these things. 'Oriental' is a meaningles designation in Art History - I mean that would include anything from North Africa to the Kamchatka Peninsula. You need to narrow it down, i.e. Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Indian etc.
But as for help, you need to get to a good academic library. I would think that the two closest to you would be UC Sta. Cruz and Stanford. Take some polaroids of photos of the prints in question, and end up standing before the reference librarian's desk. You know, these librarians are always sitting around twiddling their thumbs, but they absolutely love it when a client asks questions and they are exceedingly helpful. Anyway, what you are looking for are print catalogs. I don't know what the most well-known for your area (Chinese, Japanese I'm assuming) since I've only worked with European prints, but I'm sure there are a few. Asian art has been collected in the 'Occident' (ha ha ha) for a long time now, so the foundation of 'collecting' are always the catalogs. Anyway, that is what you are looking for. Then you may have several volumes before you and you have to start narrowing it down. You'll need to begin to learn how to identify the style and period and origin. There are several neat ways to do this. Paper identification, for one. With a lot of Asian art, of course you will be dealing with signatures and text, even though you may not be able to read it. But there are conventions tied to styles and periods about where the callifgaphic text might appear in the composition etc.
Sound like a lot of work? It is, but if you love the material it is very interesting and sustaining, like getting thoroughly engaged in a great novel. The detective works part of it is terrific - you feel like a real sleuth. It's so rewarding and exciting when you finally discover an identity of a print, after several hours of frustrations. In the process you learn so much about the printmaking practices in the period and place you're studying.
Oh, BTW, everything in the literature on measurement will be metric, so you need to get your measurements in centemeteres. The catalogs will always give the measurements in their listing of the print. It's a good way to determine if you have an 'original' (pulled from the original blocks) or a photmechanical reproduction - although there are other ways to do this.
Also, you might want to consult if you are trying to identify some prints. The curator (s)of the Asian Art collection at the De Young in SF is probably accessable, if you call up there. You have to remember, that curators are always interested in 'finds' and therefore usually interested in helping to identify art that is brought to their attention. I'm not sure what or who there is in Montere, but you have to ask around. You might check out the Art Historians at Cal State or the City College there, just for leads, and you never know, you can also stumble across an expert locally.
'Art in America' this month has an article on prints, print collecting
I have inherited some wood prints by Hokusai - at least I think they are wood prints The prints are in three packets of about 50 prints each. Each packet is bound in a stiff black cover tied together with strings. The prints are on pages 9.5' x 6.5' and they are all 7.25' x 5' with a small black border - I assume reductions from the originals. The pages are rather yellowed. There is a note '100 views of Fuji -1877' and indeed Mt Fuji is in all of the pictures. Some of the pictures are double, i.e., they are 7.25' x 10' on two facing pages.
All pictures are printed on one side of the page only. A professional told me from the above paragraph only that they were valuable but I seriously doubt it. I would not think that reductions from the originals would be worth much, and I can't imagine Hokusai making wood cuts of an original size of only 7.25 x 5.
In the same box as the set of prints above is what I believe might indeed be a valuable set. It is a book of 45 Japanese prints where each print is tacked in two corners to a very stiff page (so they can be removed without damage) and each is covered with a very light tissue on which is printed both in Japanese and English the name of the picture and the artist and a description of the work. They are all 9' x 12' and in color. Ten have only Japanese descriptions so that I cannot tell who the artist is but all have the artist's mark on them. There are 27 different artists and some have several prints. For example, Hiroshige Ando has seven - the most by any one artist. Mitsuoki Tosa has four. There is only one by Hokusai entitled Mt Fugi in a storm. The book has no title or index or any identifying pages except that on the inside cover is written in pencil 'To Miss Smith, Tokyo 1945.' Miss Smith is the Charleston artist Miss Alice R.H. Smith. So it would appear that it was 'confiscated', shall we say, after the war. Below the closing is a list of the artists and their works.
Finally, there is a book entitled 'Chinese Color Prints from the Ten Bamboo Hall' by Hu Cheng-yen' which has 16 10' x 12' color plates. It says it was printed in Switzerland by the Holbein Publishing Company, Basle, Switzerland.
All this material is in 'mint' condition without tears or stains. From this crude description can you advise me as to the general value of these packages? I mean: are they very common or very rare I would be glad to add any further detail that you might require. Your comments or suggestions would be most appreciated. You asked for specifics; I hope I didn't saturate you....
Sincerely, Bruce Matthews
Artists and Titles -
Hanabusa Iieho Fete Day Dance Mitsuoki Tosa Mat Maker, A Dyer, Pattern Maker, A Blacksmith, Carpenters Kawamata Jogyo Street in the Evening Moronobu Hishikawa The Stage Morikiyo The Gay Quarters Kunihisa Utagawa Washed Hair Hiroshige Ando Tatsutagawa, Ueno in Iganokuni, Asakuma Mountian in Ise Province, Takashi No Hama in Idzumi, Otokoyama, Hill in Kawachi Shozaburo Toyoharu Ichiriusai Tajimaya Feast at a Water-side Pavilion Hoitsu Jonin Ishiyama Temple in Omi Provence, Green Pheasant, A Frothy Poppy Hokusai Katsushika Mt Fuji Amidst a Storm Kokan Shiba A Beauty Harunobu Suzuki Beauty at Kotatsu Wang Je-Shui Crimson Camellias Doiku Untitled in English Takakane Fujiwara Armour Maker Shunsho Katsukawa The Seven Beauties Wan Shan Chin Chung Red Flowers Seiko Miyakawa A Jollification Seitei Watanabe Snake Gourd Kogyo Terasaki A Chinese Beauty Naonobu Kano A ***** Nobuzane Fujiwara Nakatsukasa, Sosen Okyo Maruyama Peacock Godoshi National Treasure: Fugen-bosatsu Unknown (in English) Image of Kichijo-ten Godess of Happiness (8th Century) Unknown (in English) Portrait of Jon Daishi (10th Century)
Thanks a million Erik; you have been most helpful. I know absolutely nothing about this field. And because you seem really interested, please see my description of the things in my post to Charles Eicher's response - indeed I didn't give anyone much data.
Thanks Marilyn .... I'll dig one up.
I'm quite familiar with the Hokusai series in question, but are you sure it isn't '36 views of Fuji'..? I guess there were a couple series of Fuji. There is a '100 views of Edo' and a lot of them have images of Fuji, perhaps the note was mislabeled. I'm not quite sure what you've got there. I'd have to research it. I've seen so much Hokusai that I sorta turn a blind eye to it lately. Hokusai worked in a lot of weird formats, but mostly in painting. The government passed laws that regulated the size of sheets of paper for printing, so almost all ukiyo-e are exactly the same size. Most of the Hokusai prints I've seen are about 10x14 inches. Larger prints tend to be printed on multiple sheets, i.e. dyptich or tryptich. I recall seeing some works bound in folios, but my recollection is vague. I would suspect these are reproductions. However, it is possible that they are quite valuable, as you say they are yellowing and they are probably quite old. The question is, are they 50 years old, or 150 years old? I would have them appraised by a professional.
Hmm.. Its possible that these were printed for the 'tourist trade' (so to speak) or for presentation. Most of these reproductions aren't just cheapo offset lithography, but are 'original' woodblock print copies, minor artworks in their own right.
I couldn't even guess, Chinese art isn't my specialty.
I couldn't even hazard a guess without seeing them in person. There's a lot of Hokusai material, and it varies in quality and value. I've even seen two authentic Hokusai prints from the same blocks, one is an early print and is crisp and beautiful, the other is a later print, the woodblock is degrading and the print looks terrible, almost worthless.
I'd suspect that the buyers for these materials are in the antiquarian book market, and many books of this type are quite valuable. A good appraiser could look at the printing quality and overall desirability and assess this easily. Sorry I can't be more specific.
Nope, ukiyo-e, not manga. The 'manga' were a specific series of works, not related to this series. They are typically caricatures of people and animals in a sketchbook, not Hokusai's famous scenic views.
Nope, that's a 50% reproduction. Ukiyo-e were typically about 25x35cm. Go look at some of the authenticated originals from this series at:
You can easily sort on the series by entering Artist=Hokusai, keyword=fuji. Note the dimensions, which are typically around 25x35 cm.
A complete set of this series, in mint condition would be worth a fortune. Half-size reproductions are of indeterminate value.
Still off by 50%.
It was quite common for descendants (real or imagined) to take the name of a famous artist and print in a related genre. But the demand for works by famous artists was huge, and even within their lifetimes, forgers would often appear. I've seen ukiyo-e with printed messages begging the buyer to insist on authentic works by the original artist only..
It was quite rare for prints to be struck from original woodblocks after an ukiyo-e artist died, as the blocks were very soft and tended to wear out after only one edition. Some artists even cut holes in the woodblock and replaced sections that wore out before the edition was finished. Copy blocks from an orignal print are not hard to make. That's how the prints were made in the first place, transferred from a drawing to a block.
Well, as long as anyone understands what it means, I see no reason one should use
so-called 'currently accepted terms'; but then The Committee for the Creation of Currently Accepted Terms would be out of business...