Born in Kanazawa, he studied with Shijo-style painter, Suzuki Kason. Under the name Koson, he made made Russo-Japanese War prints in 1904, and many small kacho (nataure study) prints designed by Matsuki Heikichi of Daikokiya for export. He taught at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts; but was encouraged by Ernest Fenellosa to design woodblock prints. Using the art name, Ohara Koson, he designed bird and flower prints as as 1910. In 1912 he abandoned print design, changed his name to Shoson, and dedicated himself to paintings. In 1926 he resumed kacho hanga production. His prints were published chiefly by Watanabe Shozaburo. He used the name Hoson on works published by Sakai-Kawaguchi. Hundreds of his bird prints were exported to America. His sensitive renderings of birds and flowers are deservedly popular.
Reference is made to the excellent new study by Newland, Perée and Schaap, Crows, Cranes & Camellias: The Natural World of Ohara Koson (Leiden, Hotei Publishing, 2001).
Click upon the images for larger screens.
Carrion Crow on a Snow-covered Branch at Dawn. c. 1930. Otanzaku: 14 9/16 x 6 5/8 (sheet 14 15/16 x 6 3/4). Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo. Illustrated: Crows, Cranes & Camellias S5.5. Signed and sealed Shoson. $975.
Crow on a Snowy Bough (grey sky). O-tanzaku: 13 1/2 x 7 1/2 (sheet 1 4 3/4 x 7 1/2). Publisher; Daikoku-ya (Matsuki) Heikichi (Tokyo publisher, 1818-1923). Illustrated: Crows, Cranes & Camellias plate 48, checklist K5.7. Subtle bokashi shading; gauffrage in the snow; shiny black lacquer feathers; nicely visible woodgrain; very fine, crisp detailing. Excellent condition. Signed and sealed Koson. $975.
Goose and Reeds. Otanzaku: 13 1/2 x 7 1/4. Illustrated: Newland, Crows, Cranes & Camellias, K11.9, catalogue 41, pages 66, 174. Signed and sealed Koson. An excellent impression with subtle bokashi shading througout, and gauffrage on the birds' feathers and on the snow-covered reeds. $400.
Sparrows over Grass. c. 1940's-50's. Dai oban: 16 1/2 x 10 3/8 (sheet 17 9/16 x 10 5/8). Publisher probably Nishinomiya Yosaku (Tokyo publisher--known active 1938 until late 1950's; then sporadically until present day.) Not in Crows, Cranes & Camellias ; variant of plate 142, checklist K33.8. The version in the catalogue has two sparrows fighting over a snow-covered branch. This variant presents the two sparrows fighting over grass, with a third sparrow flying overhead. Subtle 'bokashi' shading; gauffrage in the birds' feathers. Grubby margins; some soiling in the sky. Signed and sealed Koson. An extremely rare image. $500.
Two Carp and White Lotus. 1933. Shikishiban: 10 14/16 x 9 7/8 (sheet 10 10/16 x 9 11/16). Signed and sealed Shoson. Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo. Illustrated: Crows, Cranes & Camellias, S39.5, p. 201. A fine impression with subtle shading and glowing colors, in pristine condition. $400.
Two Wild Ducks Near Water, Reeds Behind. Otanzaku: 14 15/16 x 6 3/4. Illustrated: Newland, Crows, Cranes & Camellias, S7.4, page 196. Signed and sealed Shoson. An excellent impression with subtle bokashi shading througout, and gauffrage in the birds' feathers and in the ripples of the water. $400.
White Fronted Geese Flying above Reeds and Water. c. 1933. Shikishiban: 10 10/16 x 9 1/16 (sheet 10 14/16 x 9 12/16). Signed and sealed Shoson. Publisher: Watanabe Shozaburo. Illustrated: Crows, Cranes & Camellias, S11.6, p. 197. A fine impression with subtle shading and gauffrage (embossing) in the 2 large BIRDS'' feathers. Based on the body markings, these actually appear to be mallard ducks not geese. Pristine color and condition. $350.
Twentieth Century Ukiyoe.
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