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Tea Ceremony Supplies

Posted by Dave Bull at 8:49 PM, March 14, 2005

An important part of my recent exhibitions is the 'David's Choice' corner, where each year I display a number of items from my personal print collection. One of the prints on display last year was a Meiji-era book of designs by one of the leading painters of the day, Kawabata Gyokusho, which was intended to serve as a te-hon - a 'copy book' - for students of watercolour brush painting. The print you see here, although not from that same book, is taken from another te-hon I own by the same artist, this one issued in Meiji 33 (1900).

The volume - which is an unbound collection of single sheets - is entitled Picture Collection for High School Girls. My copy unfortunately has a few sheets missing - I guess one of the girls 'borrowed' them one day - but there are plenty left, and what a wonderful collection it is: landscapes, figures, still life ... I think if I used just this volume as my source material for the rest of this year's prints, you probably wouldn't complain!

I found this image particularly attractive, and while I was leafing through the volume trying to make a decision on which one to include in the Hanga Treasure Chest, this print jumped up and down and shouted 'Choose me! Choose me!' I'm not sure just what feature I find most appealing - the bold outlines of the tea caddy, the delicate gradations of the leaves, or the audacious bright splash of vermillion across the sheet.

I was 'talking' by e-mail with one of the collectors the other day about this year's strict 'every two weeks' schedule, and she said to me "Don't try to make them all masterpieces ...!" Well, I understand her idea, but I think that when Gyokusho prepared all his paintings for that book of his, he tried to do so. Whether or not he succeeded I can't say, but I do know that for my Treasure Chest this year, I don't want to settle for less than 24 home runs!

Come December, we'll see how well I was able to do!

Monday, March 14, 2005

(Here's the print in context in the Treasure Chest series.)


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