Kamisaka Sekka 神坂 雪佳, Chō senshu 蝶千種 1904



Artist: Kamisaka Sekka

Title: Chō senshu, “One Thousand Butterflies”

Date: 1904

Publisher: Unsōdo

Description: 1 of 2 volumes

Medium: Woodblock printed, multiple colors on paper

Format: hanshibon; gajōsō binding; printed on one side, accordion fold

Dimensions: 25 x 18.1 x 1.7 cm

Location: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Arthur Tress Collection. Box 63, Item 11  

Gift of Arthur Tress 

Chō senshu is a prime example of Kamisaka Sekka’s ability to explore a traditional theme through design. From representational to abstract, a series of printed butterflies are brought to life with Sekka’s experiments in shape, color, and composition.

Sekka was one of the last great masters of the Rinpa style of painting, who applied his artistry to the modern period’s burgeoning field of design. As a designer, educator, and leader in the arts community of Kyoto, he dedicated his life to elevating the decorative arts to the status of fine art.[1]

Sekka’s training as a painter and skill as a designer is evident in his woodblock printed books and varied crafts such as ceramics, lacquered boxes, wall panels, and textiles. He deftly integrated a modern sensibility with his commitment to the traditional ideals of the Rinpa style.

[1] Kanzaka Sekka, Yūko Ikeda, and Donald Alan Wood. Kanzaka Sekka : Rinpa No Keishō = Kamisaka Sekka : Rimpa Master. [Kyoto]: Kyōto Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan, 2003.

Other collections

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Wilmington University Library
Princeton University Library
Yale University Library
Harvard University
East Carolina University, Health Science Library
Duke University Libraries
Cleveland Public Library
Berry College Memorial Library
Simpson University Library
The British Library, St. Pancras

Further reading

Kanzaka Sekka: Rinpa No Keishō = Kamisaka Sekka: Rimpa Master. Kanzaka Sekka, Yūko Ikeda, and Donald Alan Wood. [Kyoto]: Kyōto Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan, 2003.

The Art of the Japanese Book. Hillier, J. and Langley Iddins. London: Sotheby’s Publications, 1987.


Posted by Catherine Gontarek
November 21, 2019