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Ohara Koson (Shoson). 1877-1945.

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.

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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. $550.

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. 'MADE IN JAPAN' stamp verso, indicating an impression printed for the US market after 1921. 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. $500.

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Koson Ohara was born in 1877 in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture in the North of Japan with the given name Ohara Matao. He had studied Japanese painting as an art student of Suzuki Koson, whose name he adopted as his artist go. During his career he changed his name to Shoson and Hoson. So when you read Ohara Shoson or Ohara Hoson or the other way round as Shoson Ohara or Hoson Ohara, don't be confused. It is the same artist. Koson Ohara died in 1945 in Tokyo.

Ohara Koson was the most famous shin hanga designer of bird and flower prints (kacho-e). Koson's prints were designed for Western tastes and were exported to the United States and Europe where they met with great success. His work has only recently received attention in his native Japan following the discovery of important reference material including original sketches and paintings for his prints.

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Twentieth Century Ukiyoe.

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