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Sea of Fire from the series Japan Scenery Prints, Set 6: Tsukushi District

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)
 

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sea of Fire

from the series Japan Scenery Prints,

Set 6: Tsukushi District

by Sakamoto Hanjirō, 1918

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)

IHL Cat. #862

About This Print

This print by Sakamoto Hanjirō, picturing the ancient fortifications along Hakata Bay, is from the original set of five prints issued in 1918 by Nakajima Jūtarō titled Tsukishi District which was the sixth set of prints in the ten set series Japan Scenery Prints issued between January 1917 and April 1920.  The titles of the prints in Sakamoto's sixth set are: Sea of Fire, Mt. Mino [also seen translated as Mt. Mizunawa], Enoki Temple Shrine, Kami Harbor (Tsukushi Harbor) and Chikugo River.1 

This set of five prints by Sakamoto was reissued in 1970 by Katō Junji as part of the portfolio Five Views of Tsukushi.  For a comparison between the 1918 and 1970 releases of Sea of Fire, both of which are in this Collection, see the images below. Both the original and newer portfolios are also pictured below. 

1 Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 264.

Source: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early Years, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 276.
"Sakamoto Hanjirō's, Sea of Fire, 1918, from Set Number Six on the Tsukishi district is simple and elegant. It represents the remains of the stone walls along Hakata Bay which were erected after the first attempted Mongol invasion in 1274.  When the Mongols attacked a second time in 1281 they were unable to penetrate the wall and were ultimately defeated by a devastating typhoon which set fire to their ships. Sea of Fire refers to the raging fires in the bay."

Visual Comparison Between the 1918 Release and the 1970 Release

click on image to enlarge
Top: the original 1917 release
Bottom: the 1970 release from recut blocks

About the Series "Japan Scenery Prints"

Source: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Press, 1994, p. 42.
"Tsukushi is the ancient name of the area north-west of Kyushu [in the area of Chikuzen and Chikugo provinces] where Sakamoto was born. Sakamoto was rarely involved with sheet-prints, but like his colleagues on this series he had worked as a cartoonist and illustrator and had been a collaborator on the magazine Hōsun hence he was well used to graphic techniques. Indeed, his set [Tsukushi district] is the most strikingly designed in the series, combining impressionist, abstract and Expressionistic elements into a characteristically forceful blend."

Source: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early Years, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 274-276.

"The series consisted of ten sets of prints.  Each set was composed of five small landscapes and a cover print giving the name of the series, the name and number of the set, and the name of the artist.  In addition, each set was accompanied by a table of contents and colophon sheet in standard type.  Specific publication dates ranging from January 1917 through April 1920 indicate that each set was issued separately.  Since Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958) designed a total of three sets while the other artists did one or two each, it seems likely that Hakutei was the spearhead for the project.  The artists asked Igami Bonkutsu to carve the blocks and Nakajima Jūtarō to publish the series.

The Nihon fūkei hanga [Japan Scenery Prints] series was another experiment ... in creating modern prints through the cooperation of carvers and printers.  As they had done in the production of [the magazine] Hōsun, the artists put aside the self-carving/self-printing slogan.  The main point, they reasoned, was that they were designing for woodblocks and supervising the carving and printing themselves.

Since there is no indication of the edition size, the artists may have intended to follow the usual Japanese publishers' practice of making as many as they could sell.  The price is listed on each colophon sheet as one yen fifty-six sen for one set.  A notation of postage or shipping cost was pasted onto some of the colophons suggesting that sets were distributed by mail and indicating that Nakajima Jūtarō had not anticipated the problem of postage and had to improvise a means to tell his customers of the extra charge. Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997), who helped with the carving of some of the late sets while he was studying with Igami Bonkotsu, recalled seeing advertisements for the series in small magazines.

Although the series was neither carved nor printed by the artists, it marked a significant step toward creative independence by shifting the initiative from the hanmoto [publisher] to the artists." 
 

The Six Artist's Involved

 Artist Set # Set Title Date Issued
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)1 北陸之部 Hokuriku District Jan. 8, 1917
 Morita Tsunetomo (1881-19332 会津之部 Aizu District Feb. 11, 1917
 Hirafuku Hyakusui (1877-1933)3 東北之部 Tohoku District Aug. 20, 1917
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)4 下総之部 Shimosat Distict Oct. 1917
 Morita Tsunetomo (1881-1933)5 天草之部 Amakusa District Dec. 25, 1917
 Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)6 筑紫之部 Tsukushi District May 18, 1918
 Kosugi Misei (1881-1964)7 琉球之部 Ryūkyū District Nov. 13, 1918
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)8 朝鮮之部 Chōsen (Korea) Dec. 16, 1918
 Ishii Tsuruzō (1887-1973)*
9 東京近郊之部 Tokyo Suburbs Dec. 16, 1919
 Ishii Tsuruzō (1887-1973)10 日本アルプス之部 Japan Alps Apr. 15, 1920
elder brother of Hakutei


Original 1918 Colophon and Table of Contents for Set 6: Tsukushi District

colophon
click on image to enlarge
Source: National Diet Library Digital Collections
http://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/967524

 
table of contents
click on image to enlarge
Source: National Diet Library Digital Collections
List of Print Titles and Subtitles from Table of Contents for Set 6: Tsukushi District

  Title Subtitle
榎寺神社
えのきでらじんじゃ
Enokidera jinja
Enoki Temple Shrine
 都府樓方面より望む
 とふろうほうめんよりのぞむ
Tofurō hōmen yori nozomu
神の湊
かみのみなと
Kami no minato
Kami Harbor
 玄海灘を遠望
 げんかいなだをえんぼう
水縄山
みのうさん
Minō san
Mt. Min
ō
 小森野より望む
 こもりのよりのぞむ
Komorino yori nozomu
筑後川
ちくごがわ
Chikugo gawa
Chikugo River
 

 久留米附近
 くるめふきん
火の海
ひのうみ
Hi no umi
Sea of Fire
 
 沖の端より望む
 おきのはたよりのぞむ

Photographs of the 1918 and 1970 Portfolios
 
筑紫之部 Tsukushi District
Set Number Six from the series Japan Scenery Prints, 1918
As originally issued by Nakajima Jūtarō
 
筑紫五景 Five Scens of Tsukushi
As published in 1970 by Katō Junji (aka Kata Junzō) of
Nihon Hanga Kenkyūsho (Kenkyūjo) (Katō Print Institute)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #862
 Title
Sea of Fire (Hi no umi 火の海)
 Series  Japan Scenery Prints, Set 6: Tsukushi District
 (日本風景版画 第集 筑紫之 Nihon fūkei hanga, dai-roku shū Tsukushi no bu)
Note: Overall series title is also seen translated as Landscape Prints of Japan.
 Artist 
 Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)
 Signature 
 unsigned
 Seal
unread artist's seal
 Publication Date
 May 18, 1918
 Edition  first
 Publisher
 Nakajima Jūtarō 中島 重太郎 of the Japan Scenery Prints Association 日本風景版会  [Marks: pub. ref. 368]
 Carver  Igami Bonkotsu 伊上凡骨 (1877-1933)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - minor toning and fading; mounting remnants along top edge verso
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print); moku hanga
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper  7 x 9 3/4 in. (17.8 x 24.8 cm)
 H x W Image  6 5/8 x 9 3/8 in. (16.8 x 23.8 cm)
 Collections This Print  Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.116.3
 Reference Literature   Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 264-265; Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early YearsHelen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 275; Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century, Amanda T. Zehnder, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, p. 155; Images of a Changing World: Japanese Prints of the Twentieth Century, Donald Jenkins, Portland Art Museum, 1983, p. 68.
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