HASEGAWA KEIKA. ~ Hyaku-Giku [One Hundred Chrysanthemums). Kyoto: Jihei Tanaka & Naosaburo Yamada (Unsodo). ‘1893’ [Meiji 26], [but later issue c. 1903],
3 volumes (complete), 4to (310 × 224 mm), 75 coloured woodblock illustrations (including 8 double page), each with caption in Japanese, complete with title-pages. Concertina bound in original limp gold-flecked paper. Very minor marginal browning and occasional dispersed spotting. Covers slightly soiled and lightly frayed at extremities. Modern folding cloth case. An excellent unsophisticated copy.
First complete edition, with all 75 illustrations, as issued (the remaining 25 images of the 100 were never published). A celebrated woodblock book: ‘ the extravagant Hyakukiku ... an example of the revival of printing standards in Japanese woodblock printing in the late nineteenth century after a period of decline caused by imported Western dyes and the cultural confusion of the shock of Westernisation... some of the most technically perfect woodblock books were produced at this time’ (Hulton). Besides its enduring beauty and value as a botanical record, the book evidently bore a symbolic and patriotic dimension in this period of cultural revival. The chrysanthemum, though originating in China, was perfected by Japanese horticulturalists of the nineteenth century rather as the tulip had been in Holland in the seventeenth. The flower, associated with longevity and rejuvenation became a symbol of Japan itself and the monarchy referred to as the ‘Crysanthemum throne’ and the flower adopted as the imperial seal (depicted in one plate of the Hyaku-Giku).Produced at the height of European (notably French) interest in Japanese woodblock prints, it is tempting to forms of the purest Art Nouveau in the curling petals of these chrysanthemums.
Though the first two volumes appeared 1893 (our edition also bears that date) the third volume seems only to have appeared later, alongside reissues (from the original blocks) of the first two. The Unsodo reprint is identical to the first, save for minor variations in colouring and some slight evident wear in the blocks, as well as paper of very slightly different dimensions (the pages fractionally shorter, but wider). Hulton, Flowers in Art from East to West, 1977, pp. 111-2; Nissen I, 242 (first issue, 2 vols). COPAC lists copies at BM and V&A only (both first issue, with 2 vols only, the latter copy defective, lacking 8 plates).