Login/Register

Artist: Hashiguchi Goyō (橋口五葉)

Print: Woman powdering her neck (Keshō no onna) 化粧の女

Bookmark and Share
Dates: 1918,created
Dimensions: 15.5 in,22.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signature: Goyô ga 五葉画

Related links: MFA Boston; Nelson Art Gallery; Los County Museum of Art;

Physical description:

In The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection it says on page 127: “Goyō’s first independent print, Nude after the bath, was produced by Watanabe Shōzaburō in October 1915. However, the artist was apparently unsatisfied with the results, and he produced no more prints with Watanabe. In fact it was three years before he issued his next print. All his subsequent prints were published privately, perhaps due to his desire to participate in all aspects of the printing process. A woman applying powder, which depicts a young woman putting white powder on her shoulders, was Goyō’s second print. His debt to the masters of the Kansei era (1789-1801) such as Utamaro is clear, particularly in the use of rich mica backgrounds and the half-length sensuous close up depictions of women making their toilet. The use of gold highlights on the mirror and the woman’s ring, the blind printing for the chrysanthemum motifs on her kimono border and the bokashi on the kanoko kimono design, further add to the richness of the print. Such details are also evidence of Goyō’s high standards in the carving and printing of his prints: the block for this image was carved by Takano Shichinosuke (and Koike Masazō) and Maeda Kentarō assisted with the color blocks. Nevertheless, Goyō reveals his own training in a more realistic tradition in the creation of a subtle three-dimensionality, for example, in soft pink shading on the young woman’s skin.”

Collectors of Japanese prints in the late 18th and early 19th centuries must have recognized immediately the genius of Utamaro and his supernatural ability to transcend the ordinary when it came to portraying the beauty of the women that he knew. Those women are just as beautiful, sexy and evocative today as they were back then. The same can be said of this print by Goyō. A little more than 100 years old now, this woman is just as attractive as she was the day Goyō drew her. The pose, the bear shoulder, her hair, the slope of her neck are all as appealing now as they were then. This woman has, like Utamaro’s women, been immortalized for all time. We can only sigh and wish we had known her in person. This print is a poor second best, but, as you can see, better than nothing.

****

Illustrated:

1) in The Female Image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, Abe Publisher, 2000, #13, p. 40. (Referred to as 'Woman applying her make-up'.)

2) in a full page color reproduction in "Ten years of Nihon no hanga: An interview with Elise Wessels" by Marije Jansen in Andon 108, December, 2019, p. 36.

3) in color in Seven Masters: 20th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from The Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015, p. 55. Also in a small color image on p. 201.

****

References: Hockley, ed., Women of Shin Hanga (2013), #20; Chiba Mus., Nihon no hanga II, 1911-1920 (1999), #253; Hizô ukiyo-e taikan: Mura (Muller coll.; 1990), pl. 107; Nihon hanga bijutsu zenshû 7 (1962), #36