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SHIMA Tamami (島珠実)

''Jo'' (Castle: 城) in pencil, LL margin
“Tamami Shima” in pencil, lower right margin
No artist seal
Self-printed and self-published
"1960" in pencil, LL margin (earliest printing of this design)
(H x W)
Sôsaku hanga woodblock print
42.0 x 30.4 cm
Excellent color and very good condition (two small pieces of tape residue on the verso; pigments for the trees and roof-facades show up as darkened bleed-through on the verso, which is typical of this artist's work)
Price (USD/¥):
$485 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)
(Please add $30 U.S. mail; international $50)

Order/Inquiry: SHM01


Shima Tamami (島珠実) was born in Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture. A graduate of the Women's College of Fine Arts (Tokyo) in 1958. she joined the Joryû Hanga Kyôkai (女流版画協会) Women's Print Association; also called Nihon Joryû Hanga Kyôkai, 日本女流版画協会) in 1959, a groundbreaking society of female artists who staged exhibitions of their work for ten years (1956-1965). Shima contributed prints to their fourth show held in the seventh-floor gallery of the Toyoko Department Store in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Shima's prints were promoted in the West after she received a travel grant from the College Women's Association of Japan in 1962. Her inclusion as a prize winner in James Michener's 1962 iconic (at least in the West) book and print portfolio (see ref. below) in the same year also made her work more familiar outside of Japan. It appears that Shima's inclusion in the Michener portfolio is the most commonly cited of her achievements, as very little else is known from the usual sources. Said to have designed perhaps as few as 60 prints all told, Shima might have worked as a printmaker for fewer than 10 years. Her most prolific years seem to have been circa 1959-1962, and very few, if any, works are known after around 1965. She appears to have moved to the United States in the early 1960s after her marriage to another (so far unidentified) artist.

Shima's designs are notable for their use of texture, and especially for combining various bold woodgrain patterns within a single image. Her prints from the 1960s often feature fanciful images, with birds, horses, and landscapes representing the majority. However, her subject matter overall was broader. Other subjects taken up by Shima included gardens and castles. Also to be noted are her still-lifes, which are some of her best compositions

For more about this artist, see Shima Biography.


Among the subjects taken up by Shima were views of castles. In  (Castle: 城) from 1960, the depiction of the great edifice looming over the trees is rendered with a boldly textured pattern of stonework. Also familiar in Shima's oeuvre are the stylized bare trees, which appear repeatedly in her works portraying horses and birds in landscapes.

This castle design is nearly always found with the date "1961" for an edition of 100. Our example (dated 1960) precedes that edition and is very fresh and sharply printed with exceptional textures and woodgrain. It offers an impressive display of Shima's skills as a designer and printer in the sôsaku hanga manner. We have never seen a better example of this design.


  1. Kuwayama, George: Contemporary Japanese Prints. Los Angeles County Museum of Art,  1972, p. 187.
  2. Merritt, Helen and Yamada, Nanako, Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1992, p. 135.
  3. Michener, James, The Modern Japanese Print: An Appreciation. Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1962, pp. 36-38, color plate, and book-jacket image.
  4. Zehnder, Amanda, Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, pp. 162.