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Doi Seals and Noël Nouët

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Dubious distinctions


Noël Nouët was a French artist who produced shin hanga landscapes in the late 1930's. A short biography can be found at

Click for larger view The Doi house published this 1936 oban print titled "Rain at Shiba". The bottom margin contains publisher information not in the usual vertical format, and so is depicted and described here separately from the more common Doi seals.

The print's owner reports that this is only partially a woodblock print. The black lines which provide texture in the water and shrubbery don't appear to have been carved in wood, but rather look like intaglio, drypoint, or similar process. There is bleedthrough on the reverse side for the woodblock parts, but no bleedthrough on the black lines. More discussion follows at the end of this article.


Click for larger view


There are 4 sets of characters, right to left:

    "Han-moto do-i", or "Printmaker Doi". Rarely seen.

    "Nu e tto saku", or "Made by Nouët". This was a challenging attempt to spell out Nouët in Katakana syllables. The small "tsu" character indicates a "hardening" of the "to" into "tto", otherwise the word would read "Nueeto".

    "Suri yoko-i", or "Printer: Yokoi"

    "To ike-da", or "Engraver: Ikeda"

Another of our members reports: "This is only the second time I know of a Doi print where all information is given in the lower margin. The other case I saw at a Tokyo dealer was a print of the combination Harada/Seki/Doi Hangaten, printed around 1980."

A curious thing about these margin characters is that (within each cluster) they read left-to-right, Western style. Of the relatively few shin hanga prints with Japanese characters printed along the bottom margin, they normally read right-to-left, Japanese style.

Getting back to the "multi-media" question....

Here are close-ups of two areas with the black lines which the owner feels are not woodblock printed. As noted above, the verso shows no bleedthrough of these features.

Click for larger view Click for larger view

Member A provides this feedback:

Why couldn't the black shrubbery, etc., lines be woodblock? Of course they could be anything but the probability is that they are woodblock. It could be done by using more than one block (of different patterns overlaid) for black. I know that the artisans were trying to capture the spirit of his (Nouet's) pencil sketching technique.

Member B adds this:

Good question, which technique has been applied for these prints. Consider the Nouet print, "Ryogoku hashi", which we have on this website. It's made in the same style, pretty close to a typical French pen drawing. To cut something like this into a block is certainly not pleasure, but punishment. Maybe it's a drypoint.

Hats off to: Marc Kahn

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Sticker Mystery:

The owner also reports that this print was mounted ("probably to a matte, but who knows?") using a printed tape or stamp, which itself has some characters stamped on it. This was printed with green ink, except for 2 characters which are in black ink. Click to see the two stamps

"This is kind of reminiscent of the different color ink on the back of the recent Ito Shinsui print which is featured on the Watanabe page. But, I don't recognize the black characters as digits, so I don't know what to think."

Another member kindly helps out with these points:

  • The labels were attached by the framing shop. Click to see stamps' placement on verso

  • The green text upper line is: Zen Koku Gakubuji Kumiai Rengokai (All-Japan Framing Association).

  • Next line: black ink stamp, 2 Kanji characters: Tokyo, then followed with shibu, or "branch".

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