Hiroshi Yoshida and the Jizuri seal

by: Chris Koller

Hiroshi Yoshida is one of the most well known of the shin-hanga style artists and his prints are in high demand from customers all around the globe. There are many outlets to buy a Hiroshi Yoshida woodblock ranging from your local gallery, to online auction sites like eBay. With the varying sources to buy a Hiroshi Yoshida print, and the volume of prints available, it's important to educate yourself on how to distinguish a valuable early edition print from the later impressions, reproductions, and posthumous versions of a print. There are a variety of features to look for in a Hiroshi Yoshida print, but what we will focus on here is the jizuri seal.

The jizuri seal is the most important mark on a Hiroshi Yoshida print as it helps distinguish an early edition where the printing process was directly supervised by him. Jizuri means "self-printed" and indicates that Hiroshi Yoshida played an active role in the printing process of the respective print. Hiroshi focused heavily on developing prints of the highest quality and normally only the prints with the best impressions received his Jizuri seal.

As you can see in the image below, it's important to compare prints which you're interested in purchasing with online references to the original print. Looking at the image below, this is a screenshot of The Choin-In Temple Gate by Hiroshi Yoshida. The original early work has the Jizuri seal stamped in the top left, but the later posthumous version is missing this seal.

In most cases, the jizuri seal could be found in the left margin of a Hiroshi Yoshida woodblock print, but there are some prints where it is stamped in the bottom margin, or right margin. Additionally, in almost all cases the jizuri seal appears as a black stamp, but there are some early designs where the jizuri stamp appears in bright red. Again, it will be important for you to find reliable resources online to reference the original print design and ensure that the jizuri seal is stamped correctly on the print which you're interested in purchasing.

In addition to the jizuri seal, you will commonly see Hiroshi Yoshida title and sign his prints in pencil in the bottom margin, although this is a topic to be covered in a future post :).

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