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Chōdensu from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition (re-issue)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print


from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

by Inoue Yasuji, 1902

IHL Cat. #2172

About This Print

This 1902 re-issued print from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition depicts Chōdensu (1352-1431), also known as Mincho 明兆the famous 14th century ink painter and Zen priest sternly looking at his disciple Kikuchi Myōtaku (釋氏妙澤) painting a picture of the deity Fudō Myō-ō.  Initially opposed to Kikuchi Myōtaku's painting, he relented when he realized Myōtaku's talent.  For the original issue of this print see Chōdensu from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition.

The 1902 re-issued series of prints eliminated the brocade borders of the original series issued between 1885 and 1890. 

Transcription of Scroll

A scroll, present on each print in the series, contains brief historical details of the figure and scene being portrayed.

click on image to enlarge

Source: with thanks to Yajifun http://yajifun.tumblr.com/

Chōdensu 兆殿司
教導立志基 八  兆殿司 井上探景(安治) 1886年

釋氏妙澤は慶安年間の人にして夢窓国師の徒弟(でし)なり。常に画図を好むを以て国師屡(しばしば)これを呵責すれども聞ず、ます/\画事に耽り特(こと)に不動の像を巧にゑがきて其精神感得せしか自から画(ゑが)く不動の図中より火焔を発せしより国師も其筆力精妙なるに感じ終に許して呵責せざりし 楊柳橋畔月光述

About The Series "Kyōdō risshi no motoi"

1. This series is variously translated as "Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition," "Foundations of Learning and Achievement," "Foundation of Instruction and Perseverance," "Self-Made Men Worthy of Emulation," "Paragons of Instruction and Success," "Moral of Success," "Examples of Self-Made Leaders," and "Instruction in the Fundamentals of Success."  The title in Japanese is sometimes seen as "Kyōdō risshiki or "Kyōdō risshi no moto," in addition to the most commonly seen transliteration of "Kyōdō risshi no motoi".
2. For a complete listing of all the prints in the series and additional information please see the article on this site titled Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition.

This series ran between October 1885 and November 1890 and featured a long list of heroes and heroines, from antiquity to contemporary times, who were regarded as standards of moral leadership and self-realization.

Source: Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 74-75; original research and as footnoted.
This series of 58 prints,1 plus a table of contents sheet (目録), were originally published between October 1885 and November 1890 by the Tokyo publisher Matsuki Heikichi 松木平吉.2  The table of contents sheet issued by the publisher states that "fifty prints make up the complete set (五十番揃)".  Three prints not in the initial release were added over the five year publication period, as were five redesigns of original prints, eventually increasing the total print count to 58.  The seven artists contributing prints were Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) [20 prints], Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) [16 prints], Inoue Tankei (Yasuji) (1864-1889) [13 prints], Taiso (Tsukioka) Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) [5 prints],  Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912) [2 prints], Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) [1 print], and Hachisuka (Utagawa) Kuniaki II (1835-1888) [1 print].  All the artists, with the exception of Yōshū Chikanobu, are listed in the top scroll of the table of contents sheet.  Various colors (including blue, blue/green, and tan/brown) were used for the decorative border, and in 1902 the series was re-issued by Matsuki without borders.  

Brief texts contained within a scroll-like cartouche appearing on each print provide historical details.  The scroll composer's name is given at the end of the scroll text.  The “lofty ambition” of the title is a Confucian concept, originally from Mencius, meaning “righteous determination that would inspire others.”  The market for the series probably included former samurai, ambitious youth, and conservative intellectuals.

"[W]hen it was completed in 1890 the publisher was singled out for special recognition by the government for having sponsored such noble subject matter."3

1 The Tokyo Metropolitan Library online collection shows 50 prints and a Table of Contents sheet.  The Table of Contents lists the titles of 50 prints.  Smith in Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan identified 52 prints.  I have identified 58 prints from this series including five prints (Ikina, Michizane SugiwaraKesa GozenSoga Brothers and Hokiichi Hanawa) that were re-designed and re-printed, likely due to damaged or lost blocks.
2 Robert Schaap notes in Appendix II, p. 166 of Yoshitoshi, Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection, Chris Uhlenbeck and Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 2011 that the series originally appeared as newspaper supplements.
3 The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization, Julia Meech-Pekarik, Weatherhill, 1986, p. 122.

Original Printings

Two variants of the original 1886 print

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Chōdensu 兆殿司
 Series“Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition” (Kyodo risshiki 教導立志基) [note: series title also listed as  'Kyodo Risshi no Moto', ‘Kyodo risshi no motoi’, ‘Kyōdō risshi ki’ and variously translated as “Moral of success” or “Foundations of learning and achievement” or “Self-made Men Worthy of Emulation”' or “Examples of Self-made Leaders” or "Paragons of instruction and success"] 
 Artist Inoue Yasuji (1864-1889)
 Inoue Tankei  井上探景
Tankei 探景 seal below signature, as shown above
 Publication Date Initial publication date 1886.  This print re-issued in 1902.
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya Heikichi [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 publishing information usually present in the left margin is not present on this print.
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - full size; Japanese album backing paper; minor soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; rishki-e; kyōiku nishiki-e
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 7/8 x 9 5/16 in. (35.2 x 23.7 cm)
 H x W Image 12 9/16 x 8 1/8 in. (31.9 x 20.6 cm
 Collections This Print

last update:
11/18/2019 created