“Sarah”, 2003, 15.25 x 5.124 inches, Chu-tanzaku Bijin Mitate, Moku-Hanga, color woodcut
This is a four basswood block reduction in Winsor & Newton Transparent Yellow, Alizarine Crimson, Prussian Blue, & Sumi with 28 color layers with a dark mica ground. 56 sheets printed in all in three variations. This one has a dark baren-suhi ground and the rest have either a dark mica ground or a solid bright cranberry background. I got terrific results with a minimum of sweat using my fabulous new Rei Yuki ball-bearing baren!!
I am calling this a “shin-hanga bijin mitate” — shin hanga (new prints) are woodblock prints produced in Japan during the first half of the 20th Century, especially during the 1920’s and 1930’s by the publisher like Watanabe and from original paintings by artists like Ito Shinsui, Tori Kotondo, Natori Shunsen, and Hashiguchi Goyo. Subjects were generally landscapes, beautiful women, and actors. Beautiful women (bijin) were typically depicted as in this print, submissive, sitting quietly, combing the hair, applying makeup, toweling off after the bath, etc. A “mitate” is a common artifice in Japanese prints — it’s a sort of reflection or spoof, not necessarily comical, in which a theme is transformed or parodied by changing the circumstances, the time or the persons. In this image, a modern American woman assumes the posture and dress (or undress) of any number of Japanese prints of 80 years ago.