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Red Gate at Imperial University from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Red Gate at Imperial University

from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

by Maeda Masao, 1945

IHL Cat. #57

About This Print

One of fifteen prints from the 1945 series Scenes of Last Tokyo.  This print was one of seven new designs for the series, the other eight prints originally appearing in the 1929-1932 series Shin Tokyo hyakkei (One Hundred Views of New Tokyo).  This is one of six prints in Scenes of Last Tokyo which Smith points out as depicting "places with serious imperial resonances," the six being the Nijubashi Bridge at the Imperial Palace, the Akasaka Palace (residence of the Crown Prince), the Meiji Shrine, the Torii (Gateway) at Kudan, the Gate of the Imperial University (alma mater of the most senior bureaucrats of the militarist era), and the Graveyard of Sengaku-ji, burial place of Japan’s most celebrated paragons of loyalty.1 

"The famous Red Gate entrance to Tokyo University2 dates back to the days when the Hongō district in Edo was the site of the chief residence for the Maeda family, the wealthy daimyō of Kaga province.  The gate was built in 1827 to welcome a Tokugawa princess as a bride.  Unique in design, it was designated a National Treasure early in the twentieth century.  The gate, along with much of the university campus, escaped damage in the 1923 earthquake and World War II, and so stands intact today.  It has been reclassified as an Important Cultural Treasure."3

Maeda created the below similar print in 1937 but, as can be seen, a new design and blocks were used for the above 1947 release.


Red Gate, National Treasure (Kokuhô Akamon), 1937
Number 4 from the series Gates of Edo (Edo no mon)
H: 9 3/4 x W: 12 inches (H: 25 x W: 30 cm)
Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.956

1
Japanese Prints During the Allied Occupation 1945 – 1952, Lawrence Smith, The British Museum Press, 2002, p.24
2 Founded 1877 as Tokyo University, name changed to Imperial University in 1886, Tokyo Imperial University in 1887, and back to Tokyo University in 1947.
3
The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 297.


 
 
Akamon (Red Gate) at Imperial University mounted in original presentation folder and label affixed to inside of mat window
帝大赤門  前田正夫
The Red Gate today


Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #57
 Title  Red Gate at Imperial University [帝大赤門 (Teidai Akamon) Akamon of Imp. Univ. as shown on folio label.]  National Treasure Red Gate 国宝赤門 as appears in upper right-hand margin of print.
 Series  Scenes of Last Tokyo [also seen translated as Recollections of Tokyo]
 東京回顧図会 Tokyo kaiko zue
 Artist
 Maeda Masao (1904-1974)
 Signature
 Maeda Masao in Japanese 前田正夫 carved (lower portion of right margin)
 Seal  "Masa" artist's seal lower left corner
 Publication Date  December 1945
 Edition  
 Publisher  Fugaku Shuppansha 富岳出版社, Tokyo, Uemura Masurō 上村益郎 publisher   
 Printer  Hirai Kōichi 平井孝一
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - tipped to original folder with original label; small tear in upper left margin
 Genre  sosaku-hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper  7 7/8 x 10 1/2 in. (20 x 26.7 cm)
 H x W Image  7 1/4 x 9 1/2 in. (18.4 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print  Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.81.267.23); The British Museum 1980, 1227, 0.18.6; Carnegie Museum of Art (89.28.709.8); University of Michigan Museum of Art (2004/1.112); Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1995.118.9; Mead Art Museum at Amherst College 2008.63.6; Portland Art Museum 1996.31.2f
 Reference Literature  The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 297; Made in Japan – The Postwar Creative Print Movement, Alicia Volk, Milwaukee Art Museum, 2005, p. 35; Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century, Amanda T. Zehnder, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, p. 100.

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