This is a collection of wonderful vintage Japanese Watanabe Seitei prints. The paintings are all from the 19th Century Japanese Art review magazine Bijutsu Sekai. The magazine at the time was edited by the famous Japanese artist.
One of my most popular collections is of the vintage Japanese art design prints from the Japanese art magazine Shin-Bijutsukai. These designs are very similar to those. But they were published a little earlier, between 1893-1896.
Who Was Watanabe Seitei
Watanabe Seitei is more well known for his flower and bird paintings but he also edited and contributed to the Japanese art magazine Bijutsu Sekai (The World of Art) at the end of the 19th Century. The vintage Japanese prints featured here are from that publication.
Watanabe Seitei (also pronounced Shōtei) was born in the heart of Edo (Tokyo), in the Kanda district in 1851. He started his career as a merchant but wasn’t very successful with that. So he then changed his career direction and studied painting with Kikuchi Yōsai, a renowned artist.
In the 19th Century travel from the Japanese to the West was very difficult. However, Watanabe Seitei somehow managed it. It is believed that was due to the travel to contacts he had with an export company, for whom he’d done some work in 1875.
He was one of the first Japanese artists to visit the West. For three years he traveled around Europe and the United States studying Western watercolor painting techniques. One of his paintings won an award at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris (world fair).
How To Download the Bijutsu Sekai Prints
Click on the title above the Watanabe Seitei prints that you want to download. A higher resolution of that print will then open as a new window in your browser. If you then click on that print with your mouse, you will have the option to save that print to your hard drive.
These prints would look great framed in a gallery wall. They would also be a great resource for decoupage crafts and journaling. Many of these vintage Japanese designs would fit in with today’s designs, they are timeless.
The Watanabe Seitei Prints
A delightful print design of leaves painted in fall colors on water.
A painting of three different colored sea shells and seaweed.
Blackbirds and clouds in a pink sky. This is one of Watanabe’s most popular illustrations today, I’ve seen it sold on many products as well as prints.
I think the way these goldfish have been designed would make them easy to turn into a stencil. As with Chinese culture, in Japanese culture, the goldfish serves as a symbol of wealth, fortune, and good luck.
Graphic snowflakes on black and white chevron. You can tell they are snowflakes by the six-sided symmetry of the shapes. The artist has also tried to show some of the different types of snowflake structural shapes.
Cherry blossom must be one of the most popular flowers in Japanese art prints, they are a national flower. The blossom is a symbol of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life, as their life is very short.
In Ancient Japan, farmers used the arrival of cherry blossom as an indicator of when to plant their rice crops. Check out this cherry blossom drawing tutorial.
Another landscape illustration from Bijutsu Sekai.
Wave and flower Illustration by Watanabe Seitei. This is one of my favorites in the collection. I love the color of the wave and that fact that it is illustrated in a circle.
An illustration of an oriental style teapot/kettle. It looks like there is a dragon on the spout.
The robe in this print looks like a Yukata. The is an unlined cotton unisex summer kimono worn in casual settings and bathhouses.
Another landscape illustration from the Bijutsu Sekai, but this one has more colors in the pattern than the others.
If you enjoyed these vintage Japanese art prints, check out the many other traditional Japanese patterns free printable vintage art and design illustrations on the site, such as those of Helen Hyde. There are also many other Japanese themed vintage illustration collections too, including: