Ohara Koson

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Ohara Koson

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Sparrow & Hydrangea, early 1900s

- Woodblock print
- Paper 14.5” high x 7.5” wide
- Frame 19.75” high x 13.75 wide
- Signed and sealed Koson

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Price: SOLD INQUIRE

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About the work

From the estate of Robert O. Muller in exceptionally fine, uncirculated condition. Published by Daikokuya (Matsuki Heikichi). 

Woodblock prints by Ohara Koson (1877–1945) can perhaps best be characterized as “printed paintings.” Examples of his early work with Daikokuya reflect how blockcutters and printers convincingly transmitted the painterly feel of his works to the print medium. Koson is considered by many to be the foremost 20th century designer of bird and flower prints, or kachoga. His early woodblock prints are notable for their long narrow formats and small margins.

The majority of Koson’s prints, including the sparrow and hydrangea, were exported to the United States and Europe, and a good many of those by Robert Muller. In Japan, there was little interest in kachoga images until many years later. When Japanese scholars wanted to study Shoson's prints in the 1970s, they had to import his prints from the United States. The collection at the Arthur Sackler-Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution includes more than 400 examples by Koson.

Robert O. Muller (1911–2003)

Robert Muller spent a lifetime creating a superlative collection of Japanese woodblock prints dating from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Days after his marriage in 1940, he and his new bride set off for Japan, where he set out to locate the main publisher of Koson bird-and-flower images in the Nippori section of Ueno. With the help of a policeman, he located Daikokuya, which was then under the supervision of Koizumi Shinnosuke. Bob negotiated to purchase the best impressions of forty-six designs, all “sure-fire cracker-jack sellers.”

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