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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy 50th Anniversary Mom & Dad

Today, December 26, 2013, would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents, something I doubt I will ever reach owning to the many things, including the lateness of my marriage as far as my age goes.

Fifty effing years. My mother died 19 years earlier, so my parents didn't come close... but it doesn't mean I can't think about it...

Beginning with their 20th wedding anniversary, I began purchasing works of art for them each year: a First Nations carving of an animal totem made of iron wood; an Inuit carving made of whale baleen of a pair of rutting walrus; a pen an ink here; an oil painting there... and when I went away to Japan in 1990, aside from sending my love from so far away, I purchased a piece of Japanese ukiyo-e artwork.

That's it up above... a piece from 1851, produced by noted Japanese artist Toyokuni III (also known as Utagawa Kunisada)... one of a series of The Story Of Genji... a series I eventually ended up purchasing five pieces of eight sheets (one was a triptych).

The art I sent back for their 27th anniversary is the one photographed by me this afternoon - above. The darn thing is matted and framed, and was a bugger to get a clean shot of... but hopefully you can see it well.

This image is #16, and is called Sekiya. It's an autumn scene... but what I liked about it was the fact that it has maple leaves falling... from a Japanese maple tree... of course... Canada's flag has a big red maple leaf in it...

In the second image two paragraphs above... it is actually something I found on line HERE. While we can all ooh and aah at the more brilliant colors on it as opposed to mine... I would like to point out that this brighter one is more than likely a younger print... something from post-1868 after the popping purple color was introduced to Japan. The same goes for that garish red. Ugh.

Prior to that... the colors were more muted.

The girl on the left... her kimono was certainly not canary yellow... or whatever the hell it is... it was more... peach.

I'm going to pull some data from that other website (with corrected spellings, of course):

The "Tales of Genji" were often designed by the Japanese Ukiyo-e masters. The novel includes 54 chapters and following these chapters most often the Genji series include 54 prints - although normally a title page is added so the series has 55 prints.
This Genji series was designed by Kunisada in the years 1848 to 1852. Seventeen of the prints are signed with "Toyokuni ga" in his red Toshidama cartouche and some of these are dated "year of the rat", 11th and 12th month.

Anyhow... I will not dispute this data. (How could I?)... but ukiyo-e prints have been printed and reprinted many, many times over the ensuing years... My copy is older, while newly available inks show the second print to be many years younger.

In retrospect, this was actually the first ukiyo-e I purchased in Japan... from a legitimate and reliable antique store in Nikko-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. While I did purchase what I liked (always a great idea rather than just thinking about how much money it may one day be worth), my copy has flaws... a fold... poor contact of the ink to the paper...

Such things might have once ticked me off... but now, in my opinion, the flaws make it more real than something perfect churned out by a flexographic printer of 2013.

Andrew Joseph

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