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Totenko- A Cock Crows

Totenko- A Cock Crows
by Keishu Takeuchi (1861-1942)

The artworks displayed on JAODB are not for sale.

Artist: Keishu Takeuchi (1861-1942) 武内桂舟
Title: Totenko- A Cock Crows
Series: 
Date 1st edition?1909
Publisher 1st edition?Bungei Kurabu 文芸倶楽部
Publisher (this edition)?Bungei Kurabu 文芸倶楽部
Medium (1st edition): Woodblock
Medium (this edition): Woodblock
Format (1st edition): Kuchi-e
Format (this edition): Kuchi-e
DB artwork code: 37317
Notes (1st edition)?
Notes (this edition)?The following information was taken from the original web listing of this artwork. Often written by non-experts, there may be inaccuracies:

Sunday, 6 February 2005

Artist: Takeuchi, Keishu
Date: 1909
Description: Kuchi-e, A Cock Crows
Image Size: approx. 8" x 11.5"
UK#: K107

"A Cock Crows by Takeuchi Keishu was for 1909, the year of the cock. The Japanese title, Totenko, was the equivalent of 'cock-a-doodle-do.' The three kanji used to write this title, however, give it special meaning. They are to, meaning east, ten, meaning sky, and ko, meaning red. Thus, the sound of the title in Japanese also means 'red at dawn in the eastern sky.' This phrase, like the flag, was a symbol of Japan and contributed to nationalist sentiment. In the print a young woman is kneeling with a partially furled Japanese flag in hand. She gazes intently at a cock that returns her gaze. The juxtaposition of the flag and cock brings to mind the special shrine to Amaterasu, the sun goddess, where a national flag flies proudly near the entrance, and cocks, harbingers of the rising sun, roam freely." - Woodblock Kuchi-e Prints by Helen Merritt

Artist Bio: It is often claimed that the watercolour artist who signed paintings in Western script "Keishu" was the artist Takeuchi Keishu. I have yet to see any evidence that either supports or denies this claim.

Thanks to the Lavenberg Collection for the following biography:
Given name: Takeuchi Ginpei. Born in the Akasaka district in Edo, he was the second son of a retainer of the Kishu daimyo. The name Keishu was given to him by Keika-en Keika, a haiku poet and friend of his father. He received no formal education. He is primarily known as an illustrator. Keishu was adopted into the family of Kano Eitoku (1814-1891), who was head of the prestigious Nakabashi Kano lineage. But, because of the chaos in the country, there was no work for Kano1 painters so Keishu worked as a porcelain painter while studying Kano. After the suicide of his elder brother in 1879 or 1880, he returned to his father's house and abandoned the Kano style. After a disagreement about quality, Keishu switched from porcelain painting to making hanshita (drawing the black line images to be used for the keyblocks for woodblock prints.)

At some point he studied drawing under Masanobu Karino and Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892). It is not known when Keishu began illustration. According to Keishu, his early years as a hanshita artist paid little and he was often hard-pressed for basic necessities. When his son mentioned a desire to become a painter, Keishu responded, "If you are able to live on air and water, you may become an artist."

In 1887, he joined the writing society Kenyūsha (Friends of the Inkstone - a literary coterie founded in 1885 by a group of Tokyo University students) and designed kuchi-e (woodblock-printed frontispiece illustrations produced for publication in Japanese novels and literary magazines) and sashi-e (illustrations in books, magazines, and newspapers) for the novels of many of its members including its leader Ozaki Koyo (1868-1903). He became the art editor for the Bungei Kurabu literary magazine and contributed some sixty-five kuchi-e, several of which are part of this collection.

Takeuchi was such a good friend of Ozaki Koyo that he drew the illustrations for Ozaki’s outstanding work, Konjiki Yasha (The Golden Demon), and he frequented the exclusive restaurant Koyokan in Shiba Park with the inner group members of Kenyūsha, Sazanami Iwaya, Shian Ishihashi, Bizan Kawakami (1869-1908), and Ozaki Koyo, who claimed that Koyokan was the best place to observe women. The progressive atmosphere of Koyokan, which was built in 1881 by the first president of the Yomiuri shimbun newspaper, Takashi Koyasu, perfectly matched the ethos of a group of young writers and artists, the Kenyūsha. Keishu's produced woodblocks through the Russo-Japanese War. In his later years he devoted himself to making and collecting dolls. In 1937 he was honored by the mother of Emperor Showa who requested that he paint a picture of court dolls for her.

The artworks displayed on JAODB are not for sale.

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Site copyright: Dr Ross F. Walker. Copyright of the displayed artwork: the original owner. The information contained on this website is provided as an educational resource to scholars and collectors of Japanese art. JAODB would like to thank the caretakers of these art items for their contribution to this database. The items displayed here are not being offered for sale. Unless otherwise indicated the displayed item is not in the ownership of JAODB or Ross Walker.