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Seiho's Guide to Drawing, Volume 1


 Japanese Woodblock Printed Book

Seiho's Guide to Drawing (Seihō shūgachō), Volume 1

by Takeuchi Seihō, 1901

IHL Cat. #783

About This Book

Volume 1 of four volumes comprising Seihō shūgachō (Seiho's Guide to Drawing), three of which, volumes 1, 2 and 4, are in this collection.  Each volume consists of a table of contents, twelve woodblock prints (each on its own sheet), and a colophon.  The prints are arranged in order of increasing complexity.  The prints in the first two volumes are black only, those in the fourth volume include color.  Each print is marked with Seihō's seal, black in the first two volumes, red in volume four.

The English label on the front cover suggests that this copy was exported for foreign sale.  This work was listed by one of the pioneer purveyors of Japanese art in America, Bunkio Matsuki of Boston, in his Catalogue of Japanese Artists' Materials and it is likely that this is where this collection's volumes were originally purchased. 

Published just after Seihō's return from Europe, Seihō shūgachō was exhibited at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held in St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the Japanese government's display of Books and Publications, Group 17.1  A painting of Seihō's was also exhibited.

Volumes 1 and 2 were part of the collection of the German Expressionist artist Franz Marc (1880-1916) and now reside in the Schlossmuseum in Murnau, Germany.

1 Exhibition of the Empire of Japan, official catalogue, International Exposition, St. Louis, 1904, Press of Woodward & Tiernan Printing Co., p. 69.

Source: 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. 248.
"A pupil of Kōno Bairei, Takeuchi Seihō became the unquestioned leader among painters working in Kyoto during the early twentieth century. At the young age of eighteen, he was already winning awards at domestic competitions. Like Watanabe Seitei before him, he traveled in Europe, sketching everywhere he went. This book was issued the year after his return to Japan.

Printed on deluxe paper with specially designed covers and bindings, Seihō’s Painting Instruction Album is more of a luxury object than a tool for the would-be self-taught painter. Nevertheless, the designs progress from the simplest monochrome ink sketches, in volumes 1 and 2, to more complex motifs with color, in volumes 3 and 4."

Source: The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old dreams and new visions, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Publications Ltd., 1983, p. 10, 11, 38.
"These volumes...stand at the end of a tradition over a century old of gafu, or 'picture albums', consisting of woodblock reproductions of a specific artist's work and styles.  Two of the volumes are in black ink outline, and two are in colour.  The black and white designs take advantage of the translucency of Japanese paper so that they show through invitingly before they are reached.  Here we see the bird on the left-hand sheet, while we see on the right the peasant [really a scarecrow] in reverse, showing through from the previous page."

A bird on a river-pile and a scarecrow
(from Volume 1)

Note: Below drawing titles are taken from the table of contents.
click on each image to enlarge

栖鳳習畫帖 第一
Seiho's Guide to Drawing Volume 1

目次 mokuji - table of contents

櫻 sakura - cherry blossom

鳥 tori - bird

瓢 hisago - gourd

 猫 neko - cat

蛤 hamaguri - clam
水鳧 suiei kamo - duck swimming

富嶽 fugaku - Mt. Fuji

蘿藤 daikon

油菜 aburana - rape
(also bokchoy)
鳩 hato - dove

案山子 kakashi - scarecrow

 杙 kui - pile

rear cover

Book Details

 IHL Catalog  #783
 Title  Seiho's Guide to Drawing (Seihō shūgachō 栖鳳 習畫帖) Vol. 1. Also seen titled as Seihō Shūgajō (Seiho's Practice Painting Album)
 Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942)
 drawings do not carry the artist's signature
This seal appears on all drawings in this volume
 Publication Date  1901 (明治 34)
 Edition  unknown
 Unsōdō Publishing (Naosaburō Yamada 山田直三郎 of Unsōdō in association with Murakami Kanbē 村上勘兵衛, Kyoto )
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - cover soiled, drawings in excellent condition;
 Miscellaneous  edited by Murakami Kanbē (henshū Murakami Kanbē 編輯 村上勘兵衛)
 Genre  gafu
 Format  yamatotoji 大和綴
 H x W Paper  7 1/8 x 9 7/8 in. (18.1 x 25.1 cm )
 Collections This Book  The British Museum 1981,0805,0.1; New York Public Library, The Spencer Collection; Library of Congress, Oliver Wendell Holmes Collection LC control no. 90183740; Berkeley Library University of California ND1059.T253 A4 1901 v.1-4 RARE c.3; University of Cincinnati, ARB Rare Books ND1059.T253 S3; Yale University Library J18 T139 901; Schlossmuseum Murnau, Germany Inv. Nr. 11470a
 Reference Literature  The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old dreams and new visions, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Publications Ltd., 1983, p. 10, 11, 38; Die Maler Des "Baluen Reiter" Und Japan, Brigitte Salmen, et. al., Schossmuseum Murnau, p. 199 (the drawings "cat" and "scarecrow" are pictured, along with the drawings "cucumber" and "ox" from Volume 2.)