Illustration

Shimura Tatsumi's Modern Beauties

January 11, 2017

Japanese artist Shimura Tatsumi's work feature stunningly simple yet refined images of the "Japanese beauties" or "bijin-ga." Quoting Phillip Roach of The Honolulu Academy of Arts,"(Shimura's) prints are technical marvels."

Highly sought-after by collectors of Japanese beauties ("bijin-ga") are the prints of SHIMURA Tatsumi (1907-80). Not a lot is known about Shimura, but we do know that he lived in Yokohama from 1910 and there, at the age of 17, became an illustrator for a popular woman's magazine, "Fujokai" ("Women's World"). 

Although his other woodblock prints are largely undocumented and not widely known among western collectors, Shimura is well known for his 1953 five-print series titled "Five Figures of Modern Beauties" ("Gendai Bijin Fuzoku Gotai"). These "dai-oban" (large oban) prints were published by the Tokyo publisher, Nihon Hanga Kenkyusho (Kato Junji), which then ceased business in 1953 (active 1930-53; Tokyo). 

All five prints of the series were carved by NAKAGAWA Chushichi and were printed by ONODERA Ryuji (active c1940-c55, Tokyo). The carving and printing of these "bijin-ga" prints is truely outstanding; quoting Phillip Roach of The Honolulu Academy of Arts, "(Shimura's) prints are technical marvels."