Biographies of japanese print makers


Biography Sh˘tei, Takahashi (1871 - 1945)

Takahashi Sh˘tei was born in Asakusa, Tokyo on January 2, 1871. As a child, he was adopted into the Takahashi family, becoming known as Takahashi Katsutaro. At the age of 9, he was apprenticed to his uncle, Matsumoto Fuko (1840-1923), with whom he studied Japanese-style painting.
In 1889, along with Terazaki K˘gy˘, he founded the Japan Youth Painting Society (Nihon Seinen Kaiga Kyokai). During his early years, he produced and exhibited original paintings and also worked as an illustrator of scientific textbooks, magazines, and newspapers.
In 1892, he started designing woodblock prints. Around the turn of the century he became acquainted with Watanabe Sh˘zabur˘.
In 1907, he was the first artist to be recruited by him. He produced many original designs in the style of Edo-era landscapes. In 1921, he started using the "Hiroaki", however, many of his new prints continued to display the "Sh˘tei" seal through the 1930s. Up to the great Kanto earthquake, in September 1923, he produced as many as 500 print designs for Watanabe. Unfortunately, Watanabe's entire publishing operation was destroyed in the fires which followed in the aftermath of the earthquake. After the disaster, he produced 250 more prints for Watanabe, some of which were reproductions of older images lost in the fires.
In the 1930s, while still working for Watanabe, he also designed some ˘ban (and larger) prints for the publisher Fusui Gabo. It seems that he had considerably more artistic freedom working for Fusui and was allowed to explore areas which may have been off-limits under Watanabe. At Fusui, he also acted as an editor for their Ukiyo-e reproductions.Additionally, also in the 1930s, he produced almost 200 print designs for the publisher Sh˘bid˘ Tanaka. These included 12 mitsugiri-ban prints with approximately 180 prints in smaller sizes. At the end of WWII he died of pneumonia on February 11 1945.
(With thanks to Marc Kahn's

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