Japanese prints of the XVIII –XIX century from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts







Actors name "Nakamura Shikan IV" Character name "Taikomochi Jakuhachi"
Censor seal "aratame, [year of] Cock –VII [month]" Artist "picture of Toyokuni» [UTAGAWA Toyokuni III (Kunisada I)]"
Publisher "Izutsuya"
Series «Nivaka» Carver "Hori (shin?) chō"

The production of each Japanese woodblock print involved several people – an artist, a block-cutter and a printer – whose signatures or marks were often included in the print. As a rule, the prints also bore the publisher's trademark. In addition to this, they often had decorative colophons which stated the name of the series they were part of and the name of the person depicted; courtesan, actor, warrior, etc.

With the advent of censorship in Japan in 1790, a system of censorships marks was introduced and remained in use until 1875. As censorship became more stringent over time, a variety of censorship marks was introduced, including personalised marks, marks with dates and double personalised censorship marks. These seals of approval allow modern researchers to date 19th-century woodblock prints with precision.

This print's colophon (in the top left corner) has the shape of a paper lantern.

The rectangular red colophon in the top right corner bears the name of the actor, and next to it, in as yellow colophon, the name of the actor's character in the play.

The bottom right corner is decorated with a red cartouche that spells the name of the artist, Toyokuni III, also known as Kunisada I.

The round censorship mark above the name of the artist consists of hieroglyphs saying the work has been reviewed by the censor, and a date signifying the year and month that the review was carried out.

Left of the author's signature is the publisher's mark, and below, in a yellow cartouche, is the mark of the block-cutter who transferred the drawing to the block.