A comprehensive collection of over 300 Japanese frontispiece prints (kuchie) was donated to the Library since 2011 by Professor Richard Clough, a collector.
Japanese popular novels and literary magazines of the late 1890s to the 1920s often included frontispiece images (kuchie). These woodblock prints were intended to depict the themes of the novel or story, which were aimed at women and had common themes of love, war and the vicissitudes of life. Produced to a high standard using traditional methods, kuchie prints were refined and beautiful. The choice of subjects - beautiful women, couples, heroes, folk tales - provides a contemporary frame of reference for the topics treated in the stories, while the styles of depiction reflected changes in the Japanese way of life.
Most kuchie measured about 22 by 30 cm and were inserted and sewn into the book's binding. They were sometimes folded into three sections for the reader to unfold and view. The literary magazines Fuzoku Gaho and Bungei kurabu (held by the Library) published kuchie in each issue. The prints have largely vanished from the published magazine issues over the years as they became items for collectors in their own right.
The Clough Collection is a remarkably comprehensive group of woodblock prints representing a genre of literary fiction illustration in Japan at a key moment in its social history.
- Clough's kuchie (frontispiece prints) Collection – view the colourful images from the Library’s kuchie collection online.