Little has been published regarding her dates, her training, her wider oeuvre or her processes as a printmaker. Most museums record only that the artist was ‘active c.1893-1905’. However, one of Keika’s works is very well known: her three-volume book of woodcuts depicting chrysanthemums, the official flower of Japan.
One Hundred Chrysanthemums was printed in 1893. The flower had been the focus of centuries of Japanese cultivation and by the late 19th century hundreds of new varieties had been created, some with super-sized blooms. Demonstrating great powers of observation, Keika gave at least a page to each one, and in the second volume sometimes depicts a flower across two pages.
Given their decorative qualities, many copies of One Hundred Chrysanthemums have been broken up over the years to create sets of framed botanical prints. However, the full three intact volumes published by Yamada Naosaburo come for sale at Bonhams Skinner in Boston as part of the firm’s Asian Works of Art auction that runs online until October 17.