New York, USA

Scholten is a private gallery specializing in Japanese woodblock prints and paintings. We offer ukiyo-e from the 18th to 20th centuries, including shin hanga, sosaku hanga, and Japanese-style woodblock prints produced by Western artists. Located in a spacious suite in the old Meurice Hotel, just steps from Central Park South, we enjoy meeting with visitors one on one in order to best learn about your interests and share the collection with you.


Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) - Twenty Views of Tokyo: Shiba Zojo Temple (detail)


Our booth features our current exhibition, 1923 Before & After: Japanese Prints and the Great Kano Earthquake, which explored of the revitalization of woodblock printmaking in the early 20th century and how it evolved and changed after the devastation of the September 1, 1923 earthquake.

The theme was inspired, in part, by an unexpected influx of modern Japanese prints known as shin-hanga (new prints) acquired from private collections, along with the discovery of a small photograph album documenting the destruction of Tokyo as a result of the quake itself and the firestorms that swept mercilessly across the city. The tragedy levelled huge sections of the capital, the port city of Yokohama, and surrounding prefectures with a tremendous loss of life. Many of those who did survive lost everything.

This seminal disaster had a profound effect on all aspects of life, including amongst the artistic community. In struggling to rebuild in the aftermath, print artists and publishers who were able to return to production needed to adapt to a changed environment. While modern prints produced before the earthquake are appreciated for their beauty and valued for their comparative scarcity as a result of the destruction to collections of print inventories and the original woodblocks; some of the most coveted designs were produced in the years following the earthquake as the genre developed a finely tuned aesthetic of what could be called ‘high’ shin-hanga. The booth presents works from before and after the earthquake, contrasting works from both periods by some of the same artists and exploring the interpretation of various publishers.

Katherine Martin, Director

Ito Shinsui (1898-1972)

In Spring

1917 (pre-earthquake)

19 7/8 by 10 in., 50.5 by 25.5 cm

woodblock print

This print was initially produced with a mica background that proved problematic—most extant impressions suffer from significant mica loss and foxing. This variant, which was produced at the request of the artist, is arguably a much more successful composition with the beauty wearing a deep red kimono juxtaposed against the swirling baren marks (baren sujizuri), a decorative element that emerged in shin-hanga highlighting the printing process that would become a hallmark of a Watanabe-directed woodblock print.


Ito Shinsui (1898-1972)

Eight Views of Omi: Ishiyamadera Temple

1919 (pre-earthquake)

12 5/8 by 8 5/8 in., 32.2 by 21.8

woodblock print

In the introduction to the artist’s catalogue raisonné, Ito Shinsui: All the Woodblock Prints, the son of the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo described the cooperation between artist and publisher, recounting how Shinsui was eager to utilize printing techniques to bring out his design, and Watanabe's role of pushing the printers to improve the prints with their own skills


Yamamura Koka (Toyonari, 1885-1942)

Flowers of the Theatrical World: Actor Morita Kan'ya XIII as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables

1921 (pre-earthquake)

16 1/2 by 11 3/8 in., 41.9 by 29 cm

woodblock print

The actor Morita Kan'ya XIII (1885-1932) is in the role of Jean Valjean from the play Les Misérables performed at the Yuraku-za Theater in December 1920. The drama, based on the epic novel (one of the longest ever written) of the same name by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) which recounts the struggles and redemption of the former convict Jean Valjean, seems uniquely suited for adaption to kabuki. Kan'ya was a versatile actor known for his efforts to develop new dramas, and for his great voice, an attribute closely associated with the role of Jean Valjean in any era.


Kawase Hasui (1883-1957)

Twenty Views of Tokyo: Shiba Zojo Temple

1925 (post earthquake)

15 1/8 by 10 1/4 in., 38.5 by 26.1 cm

woodblock print

In recent years this print has vaulted from Hasui's most popular print, to the most famous shin-hanga landscape, and most recently, possibly one of the most recognizable Japanese woodblock prints of all, achieving its status as an icon of the genre in just under a century. This steady climb to fame began at its inception, it was a great success when Watanabe released it as the first print in the Twenty Views of Tokyo series which was published between 1925 and 1930.


unknown, details from Great Kanto Earthquake Photograph Album

Takahashi Shotei (Hiroaki, 1871-1945)

Rain on Izumi Bridge

post 1923 (post earthquake)

6 3/4 by 15 in., 17 by 38 cm

woodblock print

In 1923, Watanabe's firm, renamed Watanabe Mokuhangaha or Watanabe Hangaten (Watanabe Woodblock Print Shop) in 1909, was destroyed in the fires following the Great Kanto Earthquake (like that of his former employer Kobayashi). All of his stock and woodblocks were lost, including all the designs already produced by Shotei. Watanabe managed to return to business and some designs, including this one, were re-cut and published. Often the new version had some small design change from the pre-earthquake version, as it is the nature of ukiyo-e process to constantly adjust, tweak, and improve the prints.


unknown, details from Great Kanto Earthquake Photograph Album

Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)

Twelve Views of Tokyo: Yoshicho

ca. 1910 (pre-earthquake)

15 1/2 by 10 1/8 in., 39.4 by 25.6 cm

woodblock print


Takahashi Shotei (Hiroaki,1871-1945)

Make-up before the mirror (moga)

ca. 1929-30 (post earthquake)

16 1/4 by 11 1/8 in., 41.2 by 28.3 cm

woodblock print