Important Japanese prints make a strong impression at Bonhams New York

NEW YORK — Bonhams September 17 Fine Japanese Works of Art auction will feature rare and important Japanese prints spanning two centuries. From traditional woodblocks to inventive monotypes, the auction will showcase the breadth of Japanese printmaking.

"Printmaking is a central part of the Japanese artistic tradition," explained Jeff Olson, Bonhams Director of Japanese Art in New York. "The September 17 auction is replete with excellent examples that cumulatively represent the major artistic movements and technical advancements in this dynamic field from the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries."

Two exquisite and entirely unique monoprints from Japanese master Sekino Jun'Ichiro (1914-1988) are sure to attract attention (est. $6,000-8,000 each). Best known for his groundbreaking modernist compositions from the 1950s and 1960s, Bonhams will present two important early works, both circa 1940. These self-printed compositions, depicting seated female nudes, beautifully capture the essence of their respective sitters with a remarkably painterly effect. No other versions of these exceptional prints exist.

Standing in sharp contrast to the subtlety of the Jun'Ichiro monoprints is a striking and abstracted woodblock by Munakata Shiko (1903-1995) from the same period (est. $5,000-7,000). The 1939 composition, which was re-carved in 1948, is a sumizuri-e, or black India ink print that measures over three feet long. Depicting Rahula, the only son of the Buddha, the woodblock epitomises Shiko's philosophical devotion to Zen Buddhism.

The auction will also showcase an exceptional selection of 18th century woodblock prints from Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770). Harunobu was an innovative Japanese woodblock print artist, and the first to produce full-color prints, or nishiki-e, in 1765. Prints from additional 18th century masters include Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), and Torii Kiyomasu II (1706-1763), as well as the ever-popular Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

Bonhams will also present a thorough selection of modern Japanese ceramics on September 17 – a first for a Bonhams Fine Japanese auction in New York. The distinct style and superb technique of these extraordinary pieces has made them popular in Japan, and the international market is catching on quickly. A large saidei decorated stoneware vase by Miyashita Zenji, which looks remarkably like a mountain landscape, is one notable highlight (est. $4,000-5,000).

In addition to the excellent selection of prints and inventive ceramics on offer, the September 17 sale will feature exceptional decorative screens, like Morita Shiryu's (1912-1998) four-panel 1967's Tatsu, or Dragon (est. $30,000-50,000), and beautiful examples of traditional lacquer arts, such as a Taisho period fine gold lacquer bunko from the studio of Akatsuka Jitoku (est. $30,000-40,000). Fine Meiji period bronzes, including a massive bronze figure of a shishi (est. $25,000-35,000) will also be available.

Bonhams auction of Fine Japanese Works of Art will take place September 17 in New York. The auction will preview at Bonhams September 13-17. A fully illustrated catalogue will be available at


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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