Cranes become snowy herons

MAY 01 04

I was absolutely fascinated to come across this print at the Allinson Gallery of 'Snowy herons' by Koei Hashimoto, born 1899, the print circa 1955. It's a beautiful image, but doesn't it look familiar?

It's clearly another print from the same woodcut as I use on my Yijing Dao site, adapted to turn the cranes (or egrets) into snowy herons. Doesn't the plume on the bird on the left look a little tacked on? Yet if you look at the other print you can see the lines of the plume suggested. Perhaps it was meant to be snowy herons all along, and the version thought to be cranes is actually an unfinished print, notice it lacks the blue grasses in the foreground and seems to show the grain of the wood. The artist of the woodcut used on Yijing Dao is yet to be identified by its owner, Connecticut College. I'll drop them a line.


UPDATE: I received a reply from Mark Braunstein of Visual Resources at Connecticut College, who asked me: 'Are you saying our print is Snowy Herons by Koei Hashimoto, or that Hashimoto's Snowy Herons is based upon our print?' I clarified:

Hi Mark,

It seems to me that your print and Hashimoto's Snowy Herons must be printed from the same woodcut, if you look closely it is identical, so it cannot merely be a case of one based on the other. Wouldn't you agree? Looks to me like your print is either a first print that wasn't finished off by further printing, or that Hashimoto decided to change his design.

In other words, I would say your print is by Hashimoto, and that your print and the Snowy Herons print were made from the same woodcut. Do you have any kind of date for your print?

An alternative explanation would be that Hashimoto obtained the woodcut that your print is made from, and used it in a new way, but this seems unlikely. Although that would have to be considered if you have a much earlier date for your print.

If Hashimoto had simply based his woodcut on your print, re-cutting it, there would be things slightly different, he couldn't cut it identical, it has to be the same piece of wood that produced both prints.

I should make it a bit clearer on the website I think… probably I was a little unclear because my initial thought was that Snowy Herons was a plagiarism of your print, but as I looked closer I realised that, no, it was the exactly same, thus identifying the artist of your print.

Mark tells me he has no date for their print.