Spoils of Time Asian Ceramics and Works of Art

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Japanese Woodblock Memorial Portrait of a Buddhist Monk

Japanese Woodblock Memorial Portrait of a Buddhist Monk

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Directory: Hidden: Viewable: Pre 1900: Item # 1130280
Spoils of Time
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Frederick, MD 21701

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A Japanese woodblock portrait of a Buddhist monk. A very successful presentation given use of only brown and blue tones (aside from the black outlines and use of gray) with a little red for the lips and flesh tone. A little opaque-white painting of the hairs to the fly-whisk and to some of the textile details (lower-right) gives a nice, delicate finishing touch. More commonly finding memorial portraits of actors, courtesans and sometimes Samurai in woodblock media, this portrait of a monk is a bit unusual. In reviewing materials, we don't readily find similar examples other than a memorial portrait by Kunisada of Hiroshige with shaved head and Buddhist meditative beads (Metropolitan Museum of Art accession #JP2832). We are not yet inclined as to whether the figure is contemporary to the portrait or an earlier historical figure. The pose and attributes are not unknown in Japanese Buddhist portrait paintings which sometimes do celebrate early, popular persons. The present portrait has had margins trimmed but includes a description in kanji which we found adhesed to the backing (not to the print) after removing from the frame. See our enlargement views for that and a small green printed stamp adhesed to the back of the print (appears to be an institutional or tax stamp of some sort and bears a number over stamped in blue ink.) It was not acid free mounted, is lightly toned and has some soft foxing (neither detracting from its presentation given the color scheme.) Print size 14 3/8 inches (36.51 cm) high by 9 5/8 inches (24.45 cm) wide (about 1/16 of an inch margin remaining along the left side). Condition is good and presentable with not visually detracting issues. To be thorough we list all issues (however unapparent when viewing framed) including small 1/8 inch (.3 cm) tear on left and top sides, soft old fold to lower left corner, an old fold lower-right near that corner, part fold (no crease) upper-right were the adhesed to backing, a couple small pressure embossments including one with pin hole, a small and narrow scrape upper-right in the image area having disturbed but not removed some of the background decoration, small areas of similarly disturbed surface mostly in blue trim on the monk's robe seemingly well conserved (we cannot be certain when conserved and wonder if not at the time of striking given limitation almost exclusively to areas of blue.) Full, high resolution scans up to all margins are available upon request.