Japanese Woodblock Print Albums

Value (2004) | $35,000 Retail

Well, I brought these watercolor block prints that my in-laws brought back from the Orient, and they've been in the family ever since, and we've just been wondering exactly what they are and what they depict.

And do you have any idea how much they might have paid back in the '40s?

I think less than $100.

For the whole group?

Entire thing.

Well, they are Japanese woodblock prints. This first album is a composite album, actually. It's made up of a variety of artists: Toyokuni III, Kunisada, in this case Eisan, who did very, very nice work. This is from the 1830s, and the signature of the artist is over here. It's actually on all three sheets, but the clearest signature's here, by Eisan. And what we have is a very attractive scene of ladies in a garden, with children as well, and very soft colors. These soft greens are very typical of the 1830s as opposed to prints that were done in the '40s and '50s when they were brighter. So this is just one triptych. There are eight triptychs inside of this, and then there are eight diptychs, or double sheets, in this composite album. Now, in all cases, the composite albums were put together later than when the prints were done. And they were put together probably by a publisher, and that's why there are a variety of artists, and why in the case of these next two items we'll look at there's some wear. Because they were probably worn before they were put into the albums. Near you, the album is a complete set of works by Kuniyoshi. Now, this Kuniyoshi set is very well known because it depicts the 47 ronin who defended their master, and went to their death defending their master's honor. And it depicts each of the 47 ronin, and has a story in old Japanese characters at the top, how they died. And it has 50 sheets in it. It does have some wear, and they do vary in the way they're printed and in the color, but it is a complete set that's nice. And the last album you have is an album... 31 pictures, 31 views by Hiroshige-- one of the two most famous, along with Hokusai, that did landscapes. And this is 31 sheets from a series that total 118. So this is "The Hundred Views of Edo," and there's the title there. This scene is "Asakusa," one of his most famous snow scenes. The publisher's seal is found at the left margin. The signature, Hiroshige ga, means printed by my hand, or Hiroshige the artist. The date seal and the censor's seal. If these were broken up, out of their albums, there's a retail value of about $35,000 for these prints.

Wow. That's kind of neat. Thank you very much.

Thank you so much for bringing them in.


Appraisal Details

Castle Fine Arts, Inc.
Del Mar, CA
Appraised value (2004)
$35,000 Retail
Reno, NV (August 14, 2004)

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