KEIEN, artist. ~ Kengyu-ka shasei. [Morning Glory Sketches]. Japan, [Meiji 34-6, 1901-3].
4to (278 × 200 mm), 80 double-page openings, each a single sheet folded vertically and pasted to the next at verso, bearing over 100 individual botanical or natural history ink drawings coloured in wash. One leaf lacking right hand portion (and affecting parts of 2 drawings). Some staining to central folds (from the light paste used in binding). Paper backstrip, upper cover lettered and with three stamps (portion of the cover torn away and repaired), no lower cover.
A large collection of very well-executed botanical drawings, including camellia, cherry, hibiscus, crocosmia, narcissus, sweet potato, peony, ginger, iris, pea, saffron and many others. The style is botanically accurate and many of the images have additional monochrome details added to the margins, but the composition and handling are wonderfully elegant, crossing the two halves of each opening. Most are titled. The plant drawings are supplemented by a few excellent bird and feather drawings and a butterfly. The album seems to have been added to successively over time, adding new leaves as they were painted or gathered. ‘Keien’ was a widely used pen name among Japanese artists of the period.