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Portrait of Shiga Naoya

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Portrait of Shiga Naoya (novelist)

by Sekino Jun'ichirō, 1977

Outskirts of Nara

IHL Cat. #1832
(note: print is shown in its mat)

About This Print

The fourth edition of this print, originally created by Sekino in 1967.  (See below for image of original state.)  Sekino has captured the novelist Shiga Nayoa (1883-1971) from rough sketches, his own photograph and impressions of his meeting with the novelist, who would not agree to sit for his own portrait.

Sekino comments:

One who is famous for disliking to sit for his portrait was the novelist Shiga Naoya.  I asked him if I could sketch him, but the request was turned down.  I heard that another painter tried to sketch him too, but he apparently ended up fighting with Mr. Shiga.  When I visited Mr. Shiga, I was at least allowed to take his photograph; but I am only an amateur photographer, and unfortunately the picture did not turn out well.  Later I made his portrait using my rough sketch, photo, and my impression of him.1


The First Edition, This Collection's Print and a Photographic Portrait of Shiga


1968 first edition
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Portrait of Mr. Naoya Shiga 肖像画 滋賀直哉 Japanese Shōwa era 1967 (Shōwa 42)
 
1972 edition
Floating World Gallery
Edition : 29/75 Date : 1972 Medium : woodblock Item# : 271016

 
undated edition
Carnegie Museum of Art
Accession number: 89.28.1220

1977 edition
This collection's print

cropped from an undated photo
taken by the photographer Tanuma Takeyoshi 田沼武能

In discussing the making of this print Robert McClain notes:

"Sekino claims that this is a very difficult picture to print, perhaps because of the individual touches he puts in with his brushes.  The background consists of two or more blocks of gray and yellow ochre, printed from the same type of rigid insulation board which produces a swirling design as used in Munakata print (Plate 16).  The paper is printed while still quite wet to produce and softer and more gentle countenance.."2

The Novelist Shiga Naoya
Source: Thirty-six Portrait Prints by Sekino Junʼichirō : [Exhibition] June 5 - July 1, 1977, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, Robert McClain, University of Oregon Asian Studies Committee, 1977, p. 41.
Sometimes known in Japan by the epithet shōsetsu no kamisama (god of fiction writing), Shiga Naoya is revered for his concise, pointed, elegant, and rich literary style.  His writing is individualistic, and sometimes sounds almost egotistical; it is deeply thoughtful and imbued with a beauty which is deceptively simple and subtle and not without a sense of humor.  Many of his works focus on this own experience, but his themes are not without a sense of humor.  Many of his works focus on this own experience, but his themes are not on the events themselves, but rather on the deliberate and fine details of psychological development of his chief characters.  They are almost always unheroic and the incidents undramatic.  Shiga’s concern is to calmly reflect, often introspectively, and to write about the development of emotions, rather than to concoct elaborate plots, which keep his works in a low-keyed and serene mood.  This kind of literature has become a favorite genre in Japan, and is much emulated by younger writers.  His longest biographical novel, An’ya Kōro [A Dark Night’s Passing] is now available in the English translation by Professor Edwin McClellan.

1 Thirty-six Portrait Prints by Sekino Junʼichirō : [Exhibition] June 5 - July 1, 1977, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, Robert McClain, University of Oregon Asian Studies Committee, 1977, p. 11.
2 Ibid., p. 41.
 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #1832
 Title  Portrait of Shiga Nayoa (novelist)
 肖像画 滋賀直哉 [志賀直哉]
 Series  
 Artist 
 Sekino Jun’ichirō (1914 - 1988)
 Signature 
Jun. Sekino in pencil 
 Seal
  Jun seal (as shown above)
 Publication Date  1977 (4th state of this print originally published in 1968 in an edition of 75 prints)
 Edition  33/80
 Publisher  self-published
 Carver  self-carved
 Printer  unknown
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - 1/2" wide paper tape along edge of margins; foxing and several spots above the subject which were mitigated by conservation.
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  dai oban
 H x W Paper  31 5/8 x 25 1/8 in. (80.3 x 63.8 cm)
 H x W Image  26 1/2 x 20 7/8 in. (67.3 x 53 cm)
 Collections This Print  The Agency of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Heritage Online http://bunka.nii.ac.jp/heritages/detail/155914/1 (1977 edition); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 67.1004 (1968 edition); Harvard Art Museum 1974.102.73 (1968 edition); Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.1220
 Reference Literature  Thirty-six Portrait Prints by Sekino Junʼichirō : [Exhibition] June 5 - July 1, 1977, University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, Robert McClain, University of Oregon Asian Studies Committee, 1977;Sekino Jun'ichirō hanga sakuhin shū 關野準一郎版画作品集 [Jun-ichiro Sekino The Prints], Sekino, Abe Shuppansha, 1997, list #395, photo p. 143
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