Exquisite Butterfly Illustrations by Masuzu Shunnan Accompanied by interesting letter
[Japan] Exquisite, hand-drawn and coloured illustrations of butterflies (and a moth or two) titled, 'Guncho-zu', that were drawn by Masuzu Shunnan (1849-1916), who was born in Edo (Tokyo), later studied English, French, and Italian and ended up working for the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Shunnan apparently copied these from originals done in 1874 by Tsubaki Kakoku, son of Tsubaki Chinzan (1801-54). Shunnan studied under Noguchi Yukoku (1827-98), who was a student of Tsubaki Chinzan. The original Guncho-zu appears to have been lost, meaning this may be one of the only known copies. Interestingly, there are two letters accompanying these illustrations and one was written by Shunnan's master, Noguchi Yukoku. The letter urges Shunnan to return the original Guncho-zu, and specifically to '.....let go of such a valuable work as soon as possible, or you wll be in even bigger trouble.' Perhaps Shunnan borrowed the original for too long and/or didn't want to return it.
7 large leaves (including 1 of text only) + 2 letters + old folder titled, 'Guncho-zu' and dated 1890.
The illustrated leaves measure 39 x 27cm.
In good condition. Folder is quite worn and a bit stained. Illustrations are all very good. Large leaf with text has hole at fold but no loss of text. General age wear. m35051398