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Shin Nigao Magazine


Natori Shunsen (1886-1960)
Tōzō in the role of Susanoo no Mikoto
Front cover from issue #5 (the last issue) of Shin Nigao

IHL Cat. #581

About the Magazine Shin Nigao

Source: Hanga Gallery website http://www.hanga.com/genre/actors/ and the website of JapanesePrints-London http://www.japaneseprints-london.com/6024/shiba-shin-nigao-e-published-1915/

During the Taisho period (1912-1926), many of the urban Japanese youth were drawn away from kabuki to more modern forms of entertainment, especially Western imports like cinema and baseball.

One notable effort to revive interest in actor prints was the publication of Shin Nigao 新似顔 (New Portraits) magazine in 1915. This art magazine was a collaboration among several Japanese artists, including Natori Shunsen (1886 - 1960), Ishii Hakutei
(1882-1958), and Yamamura Toyonari (1885-1942). The general purpose of Shin Nigao was to advertise for the kabuki theater, but it also gave the artists a chance to express themselves in new ways.  A total of 77 prints were published in the magazine over five issues, with each of the first four issues featuring 14 small woodblock prints and the fifth, and last, the "Coronation" issue, featuring 21 prints, including five portraits of officials associated with the November 1915 enthronement ceremonies of Emperor Yoshihito (Emperor Taishō) and five portraits of geisha from Tokyo and Kyoto who performed at the ceremonies.1  All of the prints were carved by Igami Bonkotsu 井上凡骨, a master artisan who was a friend of the artist Ishii Hakutei.  Most of the prints included in Shin Nigao are portraits based on simple line drawings. A few of these small prints were used as the basis for similar but more detailed shin hanga produced by these same artists in later years. Although Shin Nigao attracted some interest, production of the magazine ended after only five issues.

Covers of the five issues of Shin Nigao

Source: Shin-hanga, New Prints in Modern Japan, Brown, Kendall H. and Hollis Goodall-Cristante, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with Univ. of Washington Press, 1996, p. 49.
Shin hanga artists were familiar with classic ukiyo-e representations through reproductions, such as Hashiguchi Goyo’s (1880-1921) editions after Utamaro (1754-1806) and Sharaku (1770-1825), as well as through many extant Meiji prints.  That many of these conventions (the portrait bust composition and strong lines of traditional ukiyo-e actor prints) survived into the Taisho period is witnessed in Shin Nigao (New Portraits), a short-lived magazine of 1915, which published fourteen or fifteen woodcut actor portraits in each of its five issues.

The small (approx. 7 x 4 1/2 in.) Shin Nigao prints preserve the portrait bust composition and strong lines of traditional ukiyo-e actor prints but often add a greater sense of volume and a rough style of cutting that suggest the Western sketch tradition.   However, the traditional ukiyo-e emphasis on the character of the dramatic personage obscures almost any sense of the actor’s personality.

Printed to Perfection – Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, Merviss, Newland, et. al., Hotei Publishing, 2004, p. 26-27.
Shin Nigao is signal as it represents the collaboration between sosaku hanga and shin hanga artists, and as such challenges the preconception that clear-cut boundaries existed between the two camps.  The artists involved in Shin Nigao hoped that their work would fuel interest in actor portraiture in the early Taisho period, for as is stated in the third issue:
…in the past were nigao-e [actor portraits] by the Torii and Utagawa Schools, but despite the skill in the craft of the print master, in the technique of the printing with the baren and the skill of the woodblock master they gradually declined by the end of the Meiji.  Other means like lithographic pictures and color photography appears to be spreading the proud face of the times; it is indeed regrettable…

1 See the prints IHL Cat. #s 219, 280, 848 and 851 below, depicting a Noh performer in the play Okina (219), two Goseki dancers (280 and 251) and Prime Minister Ōkuma (848).

List of Contributing Artists

Ishii Hakutei 石井柏亭 (1882-1958) [7 prints], Ishizuka Kan 石塚翰 (active c. 1915) [2 prints], Koito Gentarō 小絲源太郎 (1887-1978) [1 print], Kondō Koichirō 近藤浩一路 (1884–1962) [1 print], Matsuda Seifū 松田 青風 (1880-1978) [14 prints], Natori Shunsen 名取春仙 (1886-1960) [30 prints], Ogawa Hyōe 小川兵衛 (a.k.a. Ogawa Heibei, active c. 1915) [7 prints], Terasawa Kōtarō 寺澤孝太郎 (fl. ca. 1915) [2 prints], Torii Kotondo 鳥居言人 (1900-1976) [1 print] and Yamamura Kōka 山村耕花 (a.k.a. Yamamura Toyonari 山村豊成, 1885-1942) [12 prints].

Shin Nigao Prints in Collection

Kataoka Nizaemon XII in the role of Gonpachi
Kataoka Nizaemon XII
in the role of Gonpachi, 1915

Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)
IHL Cat. #1979

in the role of Kiyomasa, 1915
by Matsuda Seifū (1880-1978) 
IHL Cat. #231

Sadanji in the role of Togashi, 1915
by Matsuda Seifū (1880-1978)
 IHL Cat. #279

IHL Cat. #294

Baikō in the role of Ibara
IHL Cat. #468

Nakamura Utaemon in the role of Agemaki
Nakamura Utaemon
in the role of Agemaki, 1915

IHL Cat. #1965

Fukusuke in the role of Kobei, Issue 4, 1915
by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915)
IHL Cat. #262 & #262A

Shōchō in the role of Omatsu, Issue 2, 1915
by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915)
IHL Cat. #243 & #856

Sumizō as Hōkaibō
Sumizō as Hōkaibō,

by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915)
IHL Cat. #1371

Seikanji Utako as Gosetsu no Maihime, Issue 5, 1915
by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915)
IHL Cat. #851

Hagiwara Taneko as Gosetsu no Maihime, Issue 5, 1915
by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915) 
IHL Cat. #280

Ōkuma, Prime Minister and Cabinet Minister, Issue 5, 1915
by Ogawa Hyōe 
(active c. 1915)
IHL Cat. #849

Kichiemon in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide,
Issue 2, 1915

by Terasawa Kōtarō 
(fl. ca. 1915) 
IHL Cat. #261 

Kikujirō in the role of Hatsugiku, Issue 2, 1915
by Terasawa Kōtarō 
(fl. ca. 1915) 
IHL Cat. #837 

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