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Nanjing Gulou (Drum Tower) from the portfolio Scenes of China

Sheep from Takeuchi Seihō's Album of the Twelve Calendrical Animals
 

 Japanese Color Woodblock and Collotype Print

Nanjing Gulou (Drum Tower)

from the portfolio Scenes of China

(Shina fūkō zue)

by Takeuchi Seihō, 1936

Sheep from Takeuchi Seihō's Album of the Twelve Calendrical Animals

IHL Cat. #2458.08

About This Print and the Portfolio "Shina fūkō zue"

Nanjing Gulou is one of twelve prints that make up the portfolio Scenes of China published in 1936 by the Tokyo publisher Ōtsuka Minoru whose firm specialized in collotype reproduction1. For these prints it appears that the collotype backgrounds have been overlaid with woodblock printing for the foreground to produce exquisite reproductions of designs by the Kyoto nihonga artist Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942). This print portfolio produced towards the end of Seihō's career, reproduced his original ink on silk paintings created after his two trips to China in 1920 and 1921. As further discussed on Seihō's biography page, Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942), his visit to China was seminal journey for Seihō in evolving his style, as was his visit to Europe ten years earlier.


Portfolio covered with silk brocade housing the twelve prints.
IHL Cat. #2458
17 x 21 1/4 x 3/4 in. (43.2 x 54 x 19.1 cm)
Each print varies in size. Typical measurements 12 1/2 x 16 3/4 in. (31.8 x 42.5 cm)

Print Titles
Print titles in Japanese are printed on small labels pasted on the verso of each print.
Translations are my own.
 上海小艇  Shanghai Dinghy
 江南龍華寺 Longhua Temple, Jiangnan
 西湖斷橋 West Lake Hangzhou [Duan Bridge - Broken Bridge]
 蘇州雙塔寺 Sūzhōu Twin Pagoda Temple 
 長江一望 View of the Yangtze River
 蘇州街頭 Sūzhōu  Street
 鎭江泊舟 Zhenjiang, Boats at Anchor
 南京鼓樓 Nanjing Gulou (Drum Tower)
 小弧山 [小孤山] Xiaogu Mountain
 黄河穴居 Yellow River (Huang He) Cave Dwellings
 濟南城外 Jinan
 大同古寺 Datong Old Temple

Each print, after the printing was completed, was adhered to a second sheet slightly larger than the print itself exposing a very thin mottled silver border present on the bottom sheet, a detail of which is shown below. 
Detail of silver border on each print measuring
approximately 1/16 in. (.16 cm) in width

The print with its border was then tipped along its left margin to a heavy backing sheet and overlaid with a protective translucent tissue paper, as shown below. For each print, both the backing sheet and the overlay display some toning. For the sake of visual clarity the image of each print without its backing sheet is displayed on its corresponding page. 

Print with Tissue Paper Overlay
IHL Cat. #2458.06
蘇州街頭 Sūzhōu Street with tissue overlay

The back of the portfolio's interior contains the below label serving as its colophon:

Colophon
昭和十一年七月
Showa 11, 7th month (July 1936)

限定百五十部の内 Limited edition of 150
弟百参拾八號 Number 138 of edition

大塚稔謹製
Made with care by Ōtsuka Kōgeisha 

1 Collotype printing had its first commercial use in Japan in 1889.  The collotype process was versatile and could produce high quality images on different types of paper. Collotype prints can be readily identified by the presence of image reticulation, a product of the finely cracked gelatin plate used to print the image, which can be seen under magnification. The size of the reticulation varies from print to print, but cannot be seen by the naked eye. The image can be a variety of colors.  Prints made from collotype plates can be either hand printed or printed using a press.

Seihō's China Trips

When Seihō visited the southeast of China in the early 1920s, China was still suffering under the Unequal Treaties foisted upon it beginning in 1842 which obligated China, under military threat, to offer concessions to foreign powers, essentially ceding territorial control of important ports and cities to a host of European imperialist powers, Russia, the United States and Imperial Japan. Many of the areas visited by Seihō to sketch and photograph were under Japanese control at that time, which they would maintain until their defeat in 1943.

The area visited by Seihō is known as Jiangnan (lit. “South of the [Yangtze] River") and is comprised of "present-day central and southern Jiangsu province, Shanghai, Zhejiang province, southern Anhui province and some regions in Jiangxi province. Cities that fall under this definition include Suzhou and Nanjing [and Zhenjiang] in Jiangsu, Hangzhou and Shaoxing in Zhejiang, Huangshan and Anqing in Anhui, and Wuyuan in Jiangxi."1

1 website The World of Chinese https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2020/02/delicate-jiangnan/

Map of  Jiangnan Area (within red dotted line circle) Visited by Seihō
click on image to enlarge
SY, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

In the below photograph we see Seihō in his white travelling cloak and geta sketching, surrounded by his entourage. The photographer who took this photo is unknown, but it was likely taken with one of the two state-of-the-art Eastman Graflex cameras Seihō, an avid photographer, brought along. (See the portfolio prints Sūzhōu Twin Pagoda Temple,  Sūzhōu  Street and View of the Yangtze River for examples of the artist's photographs that he would later use in creating his ink and color on silk paintings that became the basis for the prints.)

The artist with his sketchpad in China, 1920-1921
image source: Umi-Mori Art Museum blog http://www.umam.jp/blog/?cat=52

Nanjing Gulou
Nanjing Drum Tower is located on Gulou Mountain (a hillock) in Nanjing City. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1382, it served as a place for important ceremonial celebrations and as a watch tower, where the beating of the drum marked the two hour shift changes of the guards. 

Aerial view of the Gulou
image source: China Economic Net http://www.ce.cn/xwzx/gnsz/gdxw/201802/27/t20180227_28277457_3.shtml

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2458.08
 Title Nanjing Gulou (Drum Tower) 南京鼓樓

label attached to verso
 Series Scenes of China
 支那風光圖繪 (支那風光図絵)
 Shina fūkō zue 
 Artist
 Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942)
 Signature
Seihō 栖鳳
 Seal unread seals (one of hundreds of different seals used by the artist)
 Publication Date 1936 (Shōwa 11)
 Edition first and only
 Publisher Ōtsuka Minoru 大塚稔 of the publishing house Ōtsuka Kōgeisha 大塚巧藝社

Note: Ōtsuka Kōgeisha founded in 1919 in Tokyo by the photographer Ōtsuka Minoru (1888-?) specialized in fine art photographic printing and collotype printing with the objective of popularizing art and "preserving art and culture for future generations.". Still operating today in Kyoto They still operate today with the motto of "preserving art and culture for future generations". Their website can be found at http://otsukakogei.co.jp/
 Printer unknown
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent 
 Miscellaneous 
 Genre nihonga; fukusei hanga
 Format dai ōban
 H x W Paper 16 5/8 x 20 3/4 in. (42.2 x 52.7 cm )
 H x W Image
 12 5/8 x 16 7/8 in. (32.1 x 42.9 cm) with silver border
 12 7/16 x 16 5/8 in. (31.6 x 42.2 cm) without silver border
 Collections This Print Harvard Hollis Library 990153014300203941 (no images shown)
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
3/15/2021 created
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