ŌISHI, Shūga. ~ Sannō shinkei (’Real Figures of the King of Mountains’). Bunsei 5 .
Oblong orihon (180 × 252 mm), 31 double-page woodblock prints, plus 2 double pages of text (those at the front forming endpapers) and one further double-page print forming endpapers at rear. A wormhole/track affecting some 15 leaves (a single small hole to 6 of them, but a track to the others, touching the extreme left hand edge of the prints). Original orange wrappers with label preserved, spine probably sometime replaced. Quite rubbed and soiled. Two private ownership stamps to opening pages. Recent folding case. A very good copy.
A stunning album of views of Mount Fuji, pictured in sequential stages of the year in changing atmospheric conditions. The woodblocks are prepared and printed with unusual care, and the subtle gradations of tone and shade visible in the mountain and its clouds are interpreted through variable inking and impressions of the blocks on soft, translucent paper. The preface by Chōshū Kobayashi explains that the artist Oishi Shuga observed the mountain over three hundred days, from winter to spring and back to spring, studying their changing clouds and atmosphere.
This is an early issue of this celebrated but bibliographically complicated book and is dated Bunsei 5 , the date of the first editions. It is probably impossible to ascribe primacy to the known copies of the various issues which exhibit numerous variations among blocks, impressions and configuration. Ours show excellent impressions of the fine black lines printed while the blocks were still in good condition and a pleasing subtlety in the inking of the wash-like infills. Copies surveyed are all different and can contain between 15 and 33 double-page plates, sometimes with captions, sometimes without, and with a range of tints and colours — ours is primarily black and grey with some tints for the clouds. Our issue also contains an afterword not present in all copies by the artist himself in which he explains that he had seen Mount Fuji from many points of view but that Suruga city is the best vantage point, and he offers a classification of the clouds, their names and shapes and of the various weather conditions he observes. cf. Hillier, Art of the Japanese Book II, pp. 872-3 (another variant, with fewer plates, incorrectly attributed to Myuoo Shuga).