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KOSON Japanese Woodblock Print FLYING FLOCK OF GEESE & FULL MOON 1920s


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KOSON Japanese Woodblock Print FLYING FLOCK OF GEESE & FULL MOON 1920s


Geese and Full Moon

Date: c. 1910s-20s, published by Daikokuya, (Tokyo publisher, 1818-1923); signed Koson
Size: 7.5" x 14.5", full margins, overall a superior copy of this design
Condition: Fine, uncirculated print, never framed
Impression: Fine, tight registration and solid key lines
Color: Fine, deep saturated color and bleed through to verso
Documentation: K11.10 in Crows, Cranes and Camellias: The Natural world of Ohara Koson 1877-1945, illustrated on pages 174
Provenance: From the Robert O. Muller estate.
Eight white-breasted geese in flight with a full moon behind.

Robert O. Muller first encountered Japanese prints in the 1930s as a student in New York City. As a newly wed in 1940 he went on a print shopping tour to Japan with his wife where he met the shin hanga publisher Watanabe Shozaburo and Watanabe's stable of artists including: Kawase Hasui, Shiro Kasamatsu, and Ito Shinsui. He also met and befriended Hiroshi Yoshida.

After WWII, Muller continued to deal in Japanese prints, but he was also an avid collector with a keen eye for good art. Although the Muller estate is best known for shin hanga, Mr. Muller also collected late nineteenth century prints and good reproductions of famous Edo masters.

When Mr. Muller passed away on April 10, 2003, he had left possibly the largest and finest estate of 20th century Japanese prints in the world, and the question of what would become of his estate was a major topic among Japanese print collectors. The finest 20th century prints from his estate were given as a gift to the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and an exhibit was mounted. Other portions of the estate were sold at auction and still more remains with his heirs. Several books have been published about the estate.

Koson (1877-1945) began as a student of Suzuki Koson, painting flora and fauna between 1895-1902 becoming recognized as a "Nihonga" painter in the 'Kacho-ga' style. He produced a few senso-e' (war prints) during the Russo-Japanese war. After the war the vast majority of his prints between 1900 and 1912 were published by Kokkeido and Daikokuya and were targeted at the North American and European markets. During this period all of his work was signed "Koson". Between 1912-1926 he again devoted himself to painting. In 1926, this time using the name 'Shoson', he returned to the woodblock medium, working primarily with Watanabe. Shoson produced some prints using the name "Hoson' published by Kawaguchi between 1930-1931.

While the artists' prints had always been sold abroad, Shoson's success in the West was assured as a result of the Toledo Museum exhibitions of 1930 and 1936. Shoson's work was sold during these shows, and because of their artistic/decorative nature they vastly outsold the work of Yoshida, Shinsui, Hasui and others in the shin hanga movement. Shoson reached his peak in the mid 1930's. His work is realistic, based mainly on his own sketches and watercolors. It is estimated that he produced more than 450 designs of birds.

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