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SEITEI Japanese Woodblock Print MOUSE AND TURNIP 1930s


Availability: 1 available

SEITEI Japanese Woodblock Print MOUSE AND TURNIP 1930s


Mouse and Red Turnip

Date: c. 1930s; signed Watanabe Seitei at middle right with Shima Art Company's red heron over Fuji seal
Size: 7.5" x 10.1"
Condition: VG; uncirculated print, never framed; "Made in Japan" is stamped behind image on verso
Impression: Fine, tight registration and solid key lines, with extensive gauffrage  surface texture throughout
Color: Fine, deep saturated color and bleed through to verso; most copies of this print show considerable fading of the turnip leaves, whereas this print has vivid and bright colors
Provenance: from the Collection of Robert O. Muller (see below for more information)
A little gray field mouse feasts on a fresh turnip.

Seitei Watanabe (1851-1918) began to study art at the age of sixteen, and for a short period he worked in the studio of Shibata Zeshin. Seitei contributed handicraft work to the Paris Exhibition of 1878, and afterward remained in Paris for three years to study European style painting. When he returned to Japan in 1881, he continued to contribute to exhibitions of Japanese art and handicraft outside the country and won several awards for painting. Seitei was one of the pioneers of kuchi-e, woodblock-printed frontispiece illustrations produced for publication in Japanese novels and literary magazines in the late 19th century. The primary subject matter of kuchi-e are bijin - "beautiful women".

It is an ongoing source of confusion for some collectors that Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918), sometimes also used the name "Shotei". Seitei was well known for his kacho prints of birds and flowers, and was a fine artist in his own right, but should not be confused with Takahashi Shotei (Hiroaki).

Robert O. Muller’s love affair with Japanese prints began one day in the 1930s, when as a student in New York City he spotted a Hasui in a gallery window, and immediately arranged to purchase the print. 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 Collection 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 collection of 20th century Japanese prints in the world, and the question of what would become of his notorious collection was a major topic among Japanese print collectors. The finest 20th century prints from his collection 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 collection were sold at auction and still more remains with his heirs. Several books have been published about the collection.

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