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Art History Lesson: Cavallini Japanese Woodblocks Calendar

23 Aug

Cavallini & Co., known for their high quality and exquisite craftsmanship, celebrates the work of renowned artists in their beautiful calendars. Two popular calendar designs feature inspired global artwork. These two calendars hail from very different points in history, but both honor a rich artistic tradition. The first I’ll dive into is Cavallini’s most popular calendar prints: Japanese Woodblocks. The second, coming in a separate post, is Cavallini’s Botanica print calendars.

Japanese Woodblock Art Origin

Cavallini 2013 Wall Calendar - Botanica on EuropeanPaper.comJapanese woodblock art, or moku hanga, was popularized in Japan in the 17th to 19th centuries. In style, Japanese woodblocks are similar to woodcut art that was popular in the West.  The technique involves an artist drawing an image or writing text on a piece of Japanese paper, washi, then gluing it to a wood block. Carvers then carved out sections of the drawing from the wood, and the final block was colored with colorful water-based inks, or black in the case of text. This was a very collaborative form of art since it involved several skilled artisans to complete each print.

Later, a movement of the moku hanga style emerged, called shin-hanga. The term shin-hanga was coined in 1915. This style brought back the traditional woodblock art. Shin-hanga really means “new prints.” In the early 1920s, shin-hanga style artwork was immensely popular in Western cultures because the romantic style conveyed an idyllic and serene picture of Japan. The images included peaceful landscapes and traditional wooden Japanese architecture.

Cavallini’s Japanese Woodblocks Artist

Born in 1883, Kawase Hasui was a Japanese artist who worked in the shin-hanga style. Over the course of his career, Hasui became one of the most notable artists of the shin-hanga movement. Hasui traveled throughout Japan often, and his work reflects the picturesque landscapes and rural scenes he encountered across Japan.

Sadly, many of Hasui’s early woodblock prints were destroyed in 1923 during a massive earthquake. Because few were reprinted, surviving works from his early career are now highly sought after by collectors.

In 1953, Hasui’s work was honored by the Japanese government. While they were going to honor Hasui as a National Living Treasure, the government decided, instead, to commission a special woodblock print. The print, the Snow at Zozoji Temple, was designated and honored as an Intangible Cultural Treasure. Finally, in 1956, Hasui received the honor of being named a National Living Treasure.

By his death in 1957, Hasui produced more than 600 prints. Cavallini’s Japanese Woodblocks Wall and Easel Calendars feature Hasui’s picturesque landscapes and rural scenes in the traditional woodblock art form.

Cavallini 2013 Easel Calendar - Japanese Woodblocks on EuropeanPaper.com

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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3 Responses to “Art History Lesson: Cavallini Japanese Woodblocks Calendar”

  1. elsa September 10, 2012 at 6:44 AM #

    “Moku” is the Japanese word for wood, and “hanga”, means print. Simply translated as “wood print”, outside of Japan the term “moku hanga” refers specifically to woodblock printmaking utilizing traditional Japanese materials and methods.

    • europeanpaper December 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM #

      Thanks for the clarification Elsa!

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  1. Art History Lesson Part 2: Cavallini Botanica Calendars | The European Paper Company - November 12, 2012

    [...] rich artistic tradition. The first I posted about was Cavallini’s most popular calendar prints: Japanese Woodblocks. The second, today’s post, is Cavallini’s Botanica print [...]

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