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Subject:Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: Ger Tue, Dec 08, 2020 IP: 2001:981:8626:1:e535

Attached a painting having a signature reading 惺々暁斎:
Shōshō (Shōjō, Seisei) Kyōsai (Gyōsai), a name used by Kawanabe Kyosai.

The information comes from a site that deals extensively with Kyosai.
One can find there the names he used, examples of his signatures, and of is seals:

From that the signature in this painting looks OK, but I could not find the seal there, nor was I able to read it. An educated guess would be welcome too.

Link :about Kyosai

Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: peter Wed, Dec 09, 2020

Dear ger tue,
I reflected about your seal but could not come up with even a good feeling there are readable characters. Someone might come up with a good idea here.
But as your primary concern seems to be the authentication, I'd like to point out that with the overwhelming evidence of a very fine painting with the correct brushwork and expression, and a perfect signature, the seal is not important. My own printed list of Kyousai comes up with 22 different seals and there is no reason to think he might have not used many more! If a forger would go so far to produce that 100% quality brushwork (something I do not think a possibility), he would have also produced a well known undisputed seal impression. And this would be much easier, than creating all the other elements of the composition.

Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: Ger Thu, Dec 10, 2020

Hello Peter,

Thanks very much for your encouraging reply. Although I was pretty much convinced myself, my main concern was the authenticity indeed. I read his daughter Kyosui was quite good at copying his work, but would she have copied his signature...?

As for the seal, Josiah Conder listed 49 in the link I gave above, followed by 30 more, none hinting at the one in the given painting. If you have a similar image for your 22 seals at hand, I would be interested to see them.


Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: Ger Fri, Dec 11, 2020

Just a crazy thought...
Could the seal be upside down?
Then I see
艸 grass
罒 eye
宀 roof
心 hart
夂 winter
But I could not assemble these parts into one character.

Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: peter Tue, Dec 15, 2020

I am not surprised nobody posted something regarding your seal. Its too strange.

But in my opinion a seal is not an important reference for authentication, especially it is taken from a list. For none of the compiled seals there, we do know the origin and whether it is a correct reproduction. Often those seals are only copied from other older reference books and show even old woodblock reproductions. The value of such a list can not go further than "someone has seen a seal like that already".
A reference can only be a painting of a close subject that allows to compare the brushwork and characters of a painter. And a reference should be at least equally good. So in the end all comes down to quality.

I am also working on a Kyousai painting at the moment that has the rare owl seal. But if you compare that to the list of your link, you quickly can see not only that there is no exact match. The seal in the painting is simply much better, more accurate, better readable. If you dont beleave me I can send you a photo. My seal is not only coming with better calligraphy, its set on an excellent artwork with an complex composition. Now which one should I believe in?

This is the same with your painting. Though small the composition is complex and full of live. Many details are so excellent! The left hand on the edge of go board. The movement of the stone hand catched with the powerful brushwork. Many details also reveal the vivid phantasy of a great painter. The pants of the left figure have a face!
And than, a painter known for his thorough appraoch and the love of seal cutting, adds a seal that seems to mean something but dosent. We can not read it. But do they play really go? The board looks weard too. And this is of course, (always all details in good painters works are there on purpose!) what Kyousai had seen.
In Hell things seem to run in a different way, why should we be surprised, that we cant read the seal on this report from a place we dont know (yet)?

Best wishes,

Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: Michael Sat, Dec 19, 2020

I am not in the same opinion. I don't think it looks right and the seal is very important in attribution. As important as the painted signature
and the signature here I feel is tentative and mannered.
If in doubt take it to a reputable auction house like Christie's or Sotheby's. My suspicion is "attributed to Kyosai" is your best hope.
Sorry to be downbeat on this.
Best Michael

Subject:Re: Please read Kyosai(?) seal.
Posted By: Peter Sun, Dec 20, 2020

Always nice to hear a different opinion.
Most certainly Kyousai's signature is mannered, most signatures are that! But this calligraphy is not tentative. It is fluently written without doubt. All strokes are correctly connected and without hesitation. The same is to say for the brushwork in the painting.
Your suspicion about the appreciation of the market is propably right though. But does that matter?

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