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New! A Meiji-era mélange of illustrated English

Fashionable Mélange of English Words, a 20x200 Vintage Edition
10"x8" ($40) | 14"x11" ($85) | 20"x16" ($275) | 24"x20" ($675) | 30"x24" ($1,100)

Greetings, collectors! Back to school is around the corner (or already here for some of us!), and we’re celebrating the start of a new semester with a little language lesson: Fashionable Mélange of English Words. Today’s new Vintage Edition comes by way of Meiji era Japanese printmaker Kamekichi Tsunajima, and is a delightful dalliance in illustration ever-so-slightly lost in translation.

Created in 1887, Fashionable Mélange of English Words is one of several woodcut prints from Tsunajima’s series titled Ryūkō eigo zukushi (A Collection of Fashionable English Words). This conversion chart is both charming and a little bit cheeky with a smattering of skillfully illustrated translations for animals, objects, activities, and adjectives. A few amusing misspellings like “refreshuig” and “gaot” and fun pursuits like “looking moon” make these transcriptions all the more enjoyable.

Rendered with fine lines and an economic color palette, Fashionable Mélange of English Words follows similar stylistic techniques popular at the time during a cultural shift in ukiyo-e design. It exhibits rich but simple color saturation similar to Unai no tomo and delicate dynamism as in Dōtonbori.

Both historically intriguing and visually happy-making, this makes for a picture-perfect print for a little lighthearted learning. Pick one up for your school-age studier or frame one for yourself for a gleeful office palate cleanser. Whatever the setting, school’s in session! 

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Tags: new art