Boxed Cards Ohara Shoson
The great Kantō earthquake and ensuing fire in 1923 crippled Japan’s woodblock print industry. Publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō quickly reopened, rebuilding his business with some of the finest artists of the shin hanga, or “new prints,” movement, among them Ohara Shōson. He painted landscapes and depicted the Russo-Japanese War, but Shōson’s bird-and-flower works, kacho-e, established him as a master of Japanese nature prints.
Kacho-e subjects, along with other prints of the time, were better received by Western collectors than at home. Two seminal exhibitions at the Toledo Museum of Art, in 1930 and 1936, established Shōson in Western art circles, sparking the artist’s most successful period. He worked prolifically, creating naturalistic prints that displayed his delicate lines and skilled shading.
These four Shōson prints are in the collection of the Toledo Museum of Art, whose collection of modern Japanese prints developed as a result of those two early exhibitions. Today it holds more than five hundred shin hanga prints, making it one of the most significant collections of this art form in the United States.