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Nagasaki by Moonlight

Hiroaki (Shōtei) Takahashi
SAC 1977.2.014

woodblock print

ca. 1936

6 x 15 inches

15 x 38 centimeters

about the work

Originally believed to be a Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock print ca. 1680, this print is actually an example of shin-hanga, a modern revival of the classic woodblock technique. Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) owned a print studio that pioneered the shin-hanga movement, where he employed dozens of printmakers. The shin-hanga prints were not popular in Japan, so most were sent overseas to North America and Europe, where the Japonisme aesthetic movement was still popular. When the Great Kanto Earthquake rattled Japan in 1923, the studio and all of the original print blocks and stored prints were destroyed. Watanabe and his artists re-carved the lost print blocks, sometimes making subtle changes to the designs.

The S. Watanabe woodcut print shop is still in operation in Tokyo today.

This particular print block, as well as its "sister" in Spartanburg Art Museum's collection (Autumn Moon at Ishikawa) was likely designed and printed post-earthquake. Another copy of this image is in the Robert O. Muller collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art.

about the artist

Hiroaki (Shōtei) Takahashi (1870-1945) was a prolific Japanese wood block artist, estimated to have created over 500 print blocks over the course of his career.

Other examples of Hiroaki's prints can be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

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