Nihon - Design and Pattern Books (Zuan-chô, Hinagata-bon)
Three complete volumes (of 5?) from the series "Nihon" (Japan), each with numerous (98 resp. 100) full-page woodblock prints, colourful and lavishly printed designs for ornaments, textile patterns, kimonos and more.
A "best-of"-selection of the most beautiful designs published by Yamada Naosaburô, the founder of Unsodô in Kyoto (the capital of kimono design and production), partly first published in the important Zuan book series "(Shin-) Bijutsukai" (Sea of Art), in the "Keika Zuan" (both 1890s-1900s) a.o. Printed from the original plates. The artists among others are Furuya Kôrin, Tanaka Yûhô, Hasegawa Keika, Kôno Bairei.
Publisher: none given (Unsodô, Kyoto). Undated, likely late Meiji/early Taishô period, c. 1905-15
Size: 24 x 16, 5 cm (Hanshibon), Japanese block-binding (Fukurotoji). Colour woodblock illustrated front covers.
Each volume is sold separately:
Vol. 3: Cover with landscape: silver moon, clouds over islands with snow-covered pines. 50 fol. with 100 colour woodblock prints, mainly beautiful floral textile designs, with Japanese numbers in top margins, probably most first published in different editions of (Shin)-Bijutsukai.
Vol. 4: Cover with undulating seawaves and silvery cherry blossoms. 49 fol. with 98 full-page colour woodblock prints, mainly floral designs, but also with animals, designs for vases, partly with numbers, Japanese design names or titles. Probably first published in different editions of Shin-Bijutsukai. Back cover with collector's stamp "Franz Schaefer Hermsdorf b. Berlin"
Vol. 5: Cover with stylised "worm-eaten" red shield on dark blue ground. 50 fol. with 100 colour woodblock prints of manifold kinds, including ornaments in Art Nouveau style by Tanaka Yûhô (first in Kōgei shinzu, 1892), floral and animal designs (from Shin-Bijutsukai?), full-page figural scenes after paintings, a part with designs for entire kimonos, a section with flowers and plants from Kôno Bairei's "Sôka (kusabana) hyakushû", and finally 26 designs from Hasegawa Keika's "Keika (o. Kyôka) zuan"
The woodblock prints all in very good impressions and excellent colours, often with additional mica, metallic pigments or relief printing. Covers excellent, hardly any signs of wear, inside perfectly clean and fresh, only occasionally slight traces of pigment rubbing from the opposite side.
These rich compilation volumes under the simple title "Nihon" (5 volumes known) are rarer than individual volumes of the underlying Zuan design books. There are no Japanese colophons, which might suggest that these volumes were possibly intended for export to the West, where at the turn of the century and thereafter was a great demand for Japanese patterns from which designers and artists from Art Nouveau to Art Déco liberally helped themselves. In the opposite direction, European Art Nouveau also immediately had an effect on Japanese design art, as can be very well seen here.
Lit.: Scott Johnson, New Colours..., in Andon No. 97, 2014, and Ders, Zuan pattern books ..in Andon No. 100