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Tokyo, Hidaka Yurindo 1908 (Meiji 41). 255x190mm publisher's printed wrapper (some wear, spine chipped); [6],136;[4],[8]pp; woodcut illustrations throughout, a few colour, most printed in sienna. Originally stapled, the staples have perished; a used but very decent copy in a modern chitsu. ¶ First edition of Usen's first book; a facsimile was published in the seventies. A lively collection of pictures, seemingly naive at times but as Hillier said of a later book - Sangushu (1921) - "The childlike naivete of the original sketches is ... actually the acme of sophistication ... the artist is as elliptical as the poet." (Hillier; The Art of the Japanese Book). Usen hadn't yet attained the fame that brought the quality of printing his later work has but he makes up for that here with humour and imagination. Usen studied western painting before starting his career as a newspaper and magazine illustrator and is among the best of the generation of artists born and educated with the Meiji, soaked in both the foreign and the nationalistic reaction to the foreign, and determined not to step backwards into regurgitating tradition nor become mimics of the west. Some of his late work seems refined to the point of kitsch to me but when sleek expensive art journals publish articles in English on the hitherto neglected anarchistic aims of Usen's early work we know that he has truly arrived. OCLC finds no copy of this outside the National Diet Library.
AUD 750.00 [Appr.: EURO 481.25 US$ 546.1 | £UK 426.5 | JP¥ 61849] Book number 9656

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