by TANI, Sogai, ed. & KITAO, Shigemasa, artist
Many full-page woodcuts (some double-page). 21; 21 folding leaves. Two vols. 8vo, orig. blue patterned wrappers (rather rubbed), remains of block-printed title labels on upper covers. Edo & Osaka: Suharaya Ichibei & Izumiya Zenbei, 1781. Second edition of this collection of samples of haiku, all dealing with nature themes; the first edition, published one year earlier, is extremely rare. Our work has been finely illustrated by Shigemasa Kitao (1739-1820), who "was unusual among ukiyo-e artists because he was self-taught. His family ran a bookshop, and the young Shigemasa probably learnt his skills from studying illustrations in books sold in the family shop. His first works gained recognition during the late 1750s. Extant early works are benizuri-e and yakusha-e, but his principal output is in book illustration, which he practised throughout his career and which became the speciality of the Kitao school, of which he was the founder...His students included Kitao Masanobu, Keisai Masayoshi (1764-1824) and Kubo Shunman."-Oxford Art online. This work is part of the genre known as haikai, which included many poetic forms including haiku and senryu. Tani (1717-1809), was active as an editor and leader of a poetry club in Edo. The present work is a "haikai seasonal almanac edited by Tani...that identifies the characteristics of each bird and that was illustrated with scientific and naturalistic precision by the noted ukiyo-e artist Kitao...The almanac was designed so that haikai poets could identify plants and animals that they knew about but had never seen."-Haruo Shirane, Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts, pp. 194-95. The many fine woodcuts depict about 140 plants and flowers, ten birds and animals, eight insects, and 12 sea creatures. Very good copy and very rare; WorldCat lists no copy. The first ten woodcuts in Vol. I have a smallish pale brown stain. There is some worming in the margins and touching some of the images. Some of the worming has been well-repaired. Preserved in a chitsu. ❧ Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, I, p. 348-"Shigemasa was primarily a book man. He produced quite a number of separate-sheet prints, most impressively certain bijin-ga in 1777-80, and he was an accomplished painter...but he was more continuously occupied throughout his long career as an illustrator and designer of picture-books of all kinds...there is a sufficient body of works of consequence to place him alongside other artists whose major output was in books...".
(Inventory #: 6886)