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Charcoal Seller from the series Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Charcoal Seller

print number 14 from the series

Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2

by Wada Sanzō, 1950 (originally 1940-41)

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)


IHL Cat. #988

IHL Cat. #1317

About This Print

Two post-War re-issues by the publisher Kyoto Hangain of the pre-WWII design originally issued by the publisher Nishinomiya Shoin in 1939-1940 (see picture below.)  The top print above IHL Cat. #988 lacks any publisher's mark but it is certainly a post-War release by Kyoto Hangain.  The bottom print IHL Cat. #1317 is both dated 1950 in the lower left margin and carries the Kyoto Hangain seal.  As can be seen, there are small variations in the colors used on the two prints.  While commonly titled "Coal Vendor" it is much more likely that what is pictured is a neighborhood charcoal seller, as coal was little-used in the home and not abundantly available for home use and charcoal was frequently used for heating and cooking.

as originally issued by Nishinomiya Shoin, 1940-41.
Note the presence of the prints title 炭屋 on this original release in addition
to the presence of the publisher's seal and series title in the lower right of the print.

About the Series "Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures"
Sources: website of Ross Walker Ohmi Gallery http://www.ohmigallery.com/DB/Artists/Sales/Wada_Sanzo.asp  and website of USC Pacific Asian Museum "Exhibition - The Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures: The Woodblock Prints of Wada Sanzō" 

Note: 
My special thanks to Shinagawa Daiwa, the current owner of Kyoto Hangain, for providing the below information (in a series of emails in July 2014) about Nishinomiya Shoin and Kyoto Hangain, both businesses started by his father Shinagawa Kyoomi.  Shinagawa's current website can be accessed at http://www.amy.hi-ho.ne.jp/kyotohangain/

Wada’s major contribution as a woodblock print artist came through his 72 print 3-part series Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures (Shōwa shokugyō e-zukishi), sometimes translated as Japanese Vocations in Pictures. The three part series was started during the Pacific War (1937-1945) in September 1938, was then interrupted by war shortages in 1943, and was restarted again after the war in January 1954. This series was a labor of love for Wada and he brought together woodblock print printers and carvers in Nishimomiya near Kobe to work on this project

The war era prints were published by Wada through an old books store, Nishinomiya shoin 西宮書院 run by Shinagawa Kyoomi  
品川清臣.  Wada
 
 planned a total of 100 designs, with two prints being issued each month. Wada's designs for the prints were rendered in watercolor and the finished prints beautifully captured the look-and-feel of those original watercolors. The series was an immediate hit, but was suspended after 48 prints (issued in two series) in 1943 due to war shortages.

After the war, the series was continued by the same publisher, Shinagawa Kyoomi, who had opened a new business in Kyoto, which he named Kyoto Hangain 京都版画院.  (Shingawa's business in Nishinomiya had burned down during WWII.) At first Kyoto Hangain published re-prints of the earlier prints, but they went on to publish a third series of 24 prints, working closely with Wada, titled Continuing Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures between November 1954 and September 1956. The post-war prints were popular with the Occupation's "deep-pocketed" military and civilian personnel and the series was "featured in an article of the Tokyo edition of the United States military newspaper Stars and Stripes."2 Shinagawa also published a six print portfolio in the 1950s titled Japanese Life and Customs, consisting of six of the prints from the earlier two series in a reduced chuban size, which is also part of this collection.

Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures has been praised for showing “the complexity of Shōwa society…. capture[ing] the pulse of Japanese life during the tumultuous decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s”and condemned as providing a “visual message of subtle or blatant propaganda in support of government-sponsored ideas.”4 

It is interesting to see how the commentary, written by the artist, that accompanied each print in the pre-war releases was softened for the post-war re-issues by Kyoto Hangain.  All references to soldiers being away from home (as Japanese armies were marching through Asia when the series was originally released) or references to Imperial Japan have been stripped away and the commentary becomes innocent, folk-like and appealing to the post-war occupying forces.  (For example, see the prints Women Weavers and Picture Card Show which provide an abridged version of the artist's original commentary and a full transcript of the English text attached to the folders of the post-war re-issued prints.)

1 Keizaburo Yamaguchi gives the publication dates of the post-War series as January 1954 through autumn 1958. (Ukiyo-e Art 16, 1967): 39-42. 
2 "Out of the Dark Valley: Japanese Woodblock Prints and War, 1937-1945," Kendall H. Brown,p. 82 appearing in Impressions, The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of America, Inc., Number 23, 2001.
Pacific Asia Museum website http://www.pacificasiamuseum.org/_on_view/exhibitions/2004/occshowa.aspx 
4 Light in Darkness: Women in Japanese Prints of Early Shōwa (1926-1945), Kendall H. Brown, et. al., Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, 1996, p. 18.


Print Details

 IHL Catalog #988, #1317
 Title/Description 炭屋 - Charcoal Seller [number 14]
 Series Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2 (also seen translated as "Compendium of Occupations in the Shōwa Era" and "Japanese Vocations in Pictures")
Shōwa shokugyō e-zukushi 昭和職業繪盡 (also seen written as 昭和職業絵尽し and
昭和職業), dainishū (第輯) 
 Artist 
 Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 Signature 
 三造 Sanzō
 Seal
"Sanzō" - seal of artist
 Publication Date 1950 (originally 1940-41)
 Publisher #988 no publisher's mark or seal but Kyoto Hangain 京都版画院
 #1317 seal of the publisher Kyoto Hanga-in in both English and Japanese

 Edition Two later editions of the print first published by Nishinomiya shoin in 1940-41. As originally issued my Nishonimiya shoin this print was the 14th in series 2. It is believed that all the pre-WWII woodblocks for this series were destroyed in Allied air raids in 1945 and that all post-WWII impressions by Kyoto Hangain, the business started by Daiwa Shinagawa the owner of Nishomiya shoin after WWII, were made from re-cut blocks.
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - minor creasing/wrinkling; stray printers marks bottom margin
 Genre shin hanga
 Miscellaneous originally released by Nishinomiya Shoin as print number 14 in series 2
 Format dai-ōban
 H x W Paper IHL Cat. #988 - 11 7/8 x 15 3/4 in. (30.2 x 40 cm) 
 
IHL Cat. #1317 - 11 x 15 7/8 in. (27.9 x 40.3 cm)
 H x W Image 
 Collections This Print Himeji City Museum of Art Ⅲ-184-14 (dated "1939~1940年")
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
12/5/2018
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