Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Glory of Morning Glories

red and white morning glory print
Behind a muted cover, morning glories blossom. Kataoka Senfu's work Asagao zusetsu uses woodblock prints to present the diversity of the morning glory.

Japanese woodblock prints -- colorful and affordable -- have been popular in Japan since the seventeenth century. These prints were "discovered" by the West in the nineteenth century after Japan was strong-armed into European trade in 1853. Japanese prints were an inspiration for artists from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Degas.

Kataoka Senfu was active around 1902. Our copy was given to Special Collections in 1956 by H. G. Fitzpatrick in memory of Roger Conant Wilder, Jr., a member of the class of 1949 who passed away in 1953, and is an inheritor of the tradition of Western admiration for Japanese prints.

blue and white morning glory printThe first volume contains pages of stunning, vibrant woodblock prints, while the second volume consists of information about the plants and a few uncolored woodcuts. The second volume has been digitized by Princeton and is available via the Hathi Trust.

But Princeton doesn't have the first volume, and the binding of ours is super tight (resulting in these photographs, rather than our usual high quality scans), so you'll have to come to Rauner to see the flowers; ask for Rare Book SB404.8.K3 A7.

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