Woman Looking at a Mirror, July 1916
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Published by Watanabe Shōzaburō
17 ½ x 11 7/16 in.
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of Ellen and Fred Wells, 2002.161.205
This was Shinsui’s first collaboration with the publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō and is considered representative of all his prints. Intended for the foreign market, it originally had an English title, The Scarlet Lady. This hardly does justice to how skillfully the artist suggested inner reflection by focusing the woman’s gaze on a mirror outside the frame.
Many years later, Shinsui’s contemporary, the ukiyo-e scholar Fujikake Shizuya, lauded this print for “outstanding composition,” “superior color distribution,” “beauty of color tone,” “lines that convey volume,” and the artist’s “care not to bring the painting line into prints.” Notable, too, are the deliberately made rubbing lines in the background, done with the corner of the rubbing pad (baren), which create textural tension against the large flat blocks of red and black.
Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art