Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
Woodblock Prints Title: 36 Views of Mt Fuji # 20: Ushibori in Hitachi Province (Jôshû Ushibori), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjûrokkei)
1st Publication: November 1830
Size: 14-1/2 x 10
Date of this edition: November 1830, first Edition, the extremely rare Aizure-e state
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudô)
Condition: Exceptional Condition. A imperceptible vertical crease, a couple of clear area. For an original Hokusai, it would qualify as Museum Condition.
Notes: We were able to retrieve 5 unique, unpublished ink drawings and 2 pure Aizuri-e blue print from the 36 views of Mt Fuji, from the estate of Margaret Ann Niedringhaus (Peg Palmer). She founded the Pacificulture Foundation,(PCF) now called the Pacific Asia Museum, (PAM) in Pasadena, California and served as president from 1970 to 1971.
A large part of her collection was gifted to the museum. You can review the art that was given HERE, while some other pieces stayed in her private collection and finally becomes available.
It is needless to say how this artwork is absolutely fantastic and exceptional.
There are a few variation made of this print, chronologically:
1/ The Azuri-e : Also known as the "Pure Aizuri state", it is an all blue edition, using only the Prussian blue color ( Aka Bero, or Berlin Blue). This was the first state of this edition, and the most sought after. Only 10 prints from the 36 views of Mt Fuji are know in this state, published in 2 groups of 5 prints by November and December 1830. The entire print is made in different shades of blue, and might contain some black section for some prints.***
2/ The Blue Outline aka Juni-aizuri-e (Semi All Blue) : Same that the previous one, but this variation has a some green instead of the blue in some area of the print. For Ushibori, it would be in the bushes, the mount Fuji, the roof of the houses, the clothes of the persons on the boat and the deck of the boat. It also has some very light shade of salmon color. For this print, you will find them on the wooden part of the boat, along with the walls of the houses with the green roof top. See example HERE
3/ The Black Outline : This more colorful version is called the black outline, meaning the title and borders around it use black ink instead of blue. You will also see some yellow in the roof of the boat, some brown color variation in the boat, different shades of green throughout the print
See example HERE
A similar aizuri-e version sold at Christies sold in May 2013 for $ 24,500 but was in much worse condition than this one,
See result HERE
The actual estimated value of this print, in this condition range between $35,000 to $50,000
You will note that this version do not bear the Kiwame and publisher seal. The seals were randomly applied. Some have it, some don't. This is particularly true for all the prints from the 36 views of Mt Fuji Series, no matter which version, aizuri-e, Juni-Aizuri-e (blue) or black outline.
More about this print: Lying some 60 miles from Itako, in Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki prefecture), Ushibori was on Lake Kasumi-ga-ura. Because it had an inland harbor connecting to Chöshi, many boats and ships stopped at Ushibori.
It is winter, the mount Fuji is covered in snow. On the boat, one sailor washing rice for his dinner leans against the gunwale to pour out the rinse water overboard, probably disturbing the two herons away.
Hokusai is obviously interested in the life of this boatman, and he meticulously draws the boat inside and out, in contrast with the nature outside, immense, immobile, serene.
The roof or shelter is made of kaya, a native plant of the area. The boat's cargo - sacks of some sort of product and reed mats - is stowed in an orderly manner. And on the shelf of the cabin are the boatman's books and ledgers.
The subtle use of a single color scheme (Shades of blue) creates an harmony between the lonely life of the boatman on a winter evening, and the landscape surrounding them.
Pictures: Pictures are taken outdoor, in the shade, to reflect true colors, without any enhancements of any kind. The last picture is taken indoor, with a light behind the print, to reveal the exact paper grain, holes if any, or other possible flaws.
*** If you want to know all the details about the Aizuri-e story, please read this article from Henry Smith, called Hokusai and the blue revolution, also published in the book "Hokusai and his age". Page 257 of this book confirm Ushibori as being one of the 5 first print from the series being printed in the pure aizuri state.
Article Hokusai and the blue Revolution