Ryōsaishii Emaki 聊斎志異絵巻 [2 illustrated scrolls] [Picture Scrolls from “Strange Tales from Liaozhai,” also “Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio”]
Minegishi Gisanjin 峰岸魏山人, artist (also Minegishi Giichi 峰岸義一). Ryōsaishii Emaki 聊斎志異絵巻 [2 illustrated scrolls] [Picture Scrolls from “Strange Tales from Liaozhai,” also “Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio”]
Bijutusu Shuppansha 美術出版社, publisher
2 scrolls by Minegishi Gisanjin 峰岸魏山人, artist (1900-1985, also Minegishi Giichi 峰岸義一). Limitation of 100. Cover of wooden box has Ryōsaishii 聊斎志異 and the inside cover has the artist’s name and hanko. Blocks were carved by established painter Sasaki Kō (1907-1974) 佐々木孔 and printed by Inoue Jirō 伊上次郎. 22 original woodblock color illustrations (11 per scroll) and Japanese text tell a story based on the Chinese literary classic, “Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio,” or “Strange Tales from Liaozhai,” (Ryōsaishii 聊齋志異, also Liáozhāi), by Pú Sōnglíng 蒲松龄. Sōnglíng’s work, published after his death in c. 1740, includes almost 500 supernatural tales of romance that are well-known in the Chinese lexicon. See Sydney L. Sondergard, Strange Tales from Liaozhai, 6. Vols., Jain Publishing, 2008-2013.
Scroll 1 (outer box has a printed catalog entry) - Heng Niang 恒娘 (kōjyō in Japanese). Showa 37 . Tokyo. Mounted with initial gold-green brocade with printed title slip, ribbon and clasp. Initial interior gold-flecked paper 32 x 28.5 followed by a title illustration 28 x 2 3.5cm, brown fabric 28 x 8.7cm and the main scroll of 417 x 28cm. A brown fabric border of 2.2cm is on both sides. 7 x 6.9cm printed colophon laid-in to the inside of the wooden box. Collotype engraved by established painter Sasaki Kō (1907-1974) 佐々木孔 and color woodblock on top printed by Inoue Jirō 伊上次郎. The title Heng Niang 恒娘 has been translated as both “The Wise Neighbor” and “The Fox Spirit” and both apply. In the tale, a fox spirit disguised as a neighbor helps an unhappy wife regain the affections of her neglectful husband.
Scroll 2 - 愛奴 Ai Nu - Showa 40 . Tokyo. Bijutusu Shuppansha 美術出版社, publisher. Mounted with initial blue brocade with printed title slip, navy ribbon and clasp. Initial interior gold-flecked paper 25.5 x 28.5 followed by blue fabric 4cm, a title illustration 28 x 14cm, brown fabric 28 x 3.5cm and the main scroll of 437.5 x 28cm. A brown fabric border of 1.9cm is on both sides. 8.2 x 7cm blue sheet tipped-in to the inside cover of the wooden box . No limitation given. Woodblocks carved by established painter Sasaki Kō (1907-1974) 佐々木孔 and printed by Inoue Jirō 伊上次郎. The title 愛奴, has been translated as “Love’s Slave” or “Slave of Love.” In this story, a husband digs up the grave of his beloved wife and finds her body intact. The couple are able to live together in secret as husband and ghost-wife, until he makes an error that sends her back to the grave.
The scrolls have a folklore style, with handwritten-style text in between the collotype/woodblock prints. The bright blue, green, red-orange and yellow colors are applied freely using woodblock, at times extending beyond the print borders, and as such the prints have a watercolor feel. Despite there being no indication of a series, the artist has done one other scroll in the same style based on another Chinese tale from the same book in 1964 and illustrated a book on the tales entitled Ehon Ryōsaishii えほん聊斎志異 that was published in 1965.
Minegishi was known as an avant garde painter and was a founding member of the organization Kyūshitsukai 九室会 in 1938, which continued meeting until 1943 when avant garde expression was suppressed by the Japanese government. Kyūshitsukai was named after the exhibit Modern Room Number 9 モダン・ルーム 第九室, in which he and other founding members, including Yamaguchi Takeo 山口長男 (1902-1983), Yoshihara Jirō 吉原治良 (1905-1972) and Katsura Yukiko 桂ユキ子 (1913-1991), among others, exhibited their works together. Yoshihara was also the founding member of the established avant garde group GUTAI, in which Katsura, one of the earliest Japanese women avant garde artists, participated.
The 2 scrolls are housed in individual wooden boxes and stored in matching cardboard boxes. One outer box has a laid-down, photocopied catalog entry in Japanese on one side. Two of the flaps of one exterior box and one on the other are detached at top. A few small areas of foxing on the scroll with similar on the back, otherwise scrolls are in fine condition.