Yamato jinbutsu gafu: [Zenpen]. [The People of Yamato Picture Album or Album of Japanese Figure Drawings]
by YAMAGUCHI, Soken
Numerous full-page & double-page woodcuts. 22; 18; 18 folding leaves. Three vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Kyoto: Hishiya Magobe, 1799. First edition of this beautiful black & white woodcut book, the artist's first important work. Yamaguchi (1759-1818), "was the first Maruyama artist to attract the publishers and was associated with a number of important books from 1799 onwards...In his own day, he was accounted one of the 'ten most notable pupils of Okyo'...The paintings that made his name were serious, consequential works: the figure subjects published as woodcuts [in the present work], were obviously thrown off with real or calculated impetuosity, and have that immediate appeal, the feeling of close intimacy with the artist, that impromptu brush sketches give."-Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 532. "Most Japanese books of this period were printed on semi-transparent paper. Even though the sheets were printed on one side and folded in half, faint images would often show through. Most readers simply disregarded this...Soken planned to use the transparency of the paper deliberately in the manner of earlier poetry anthologies. He knew his readers would be slow to notice what he was doing, but the longer they took to notice, the greater their surprise and pleasure. His first drawing is of a flowering branch of plum blossom. Behind it, the face of an older man shows through from the other side of the page, creating an illusion of distance and physical space."-Keyes, Ehon. The Artist and the Book in Japan (NYPL: 2006), 30. The first opening in Volume I contains four large, energetically written characters that perfectly model what they say: "Brush tip pleasures." Fine set. A sequel was published in 1804.
(Inventory #: 5656)
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