This portrait of Goyo's favorite model, Tomi Kodaira, is one of the most well-known and desired prints of the Shin Hanga movement. The sensuality of the private act of a woman combing her hair attracted artists across cultures, from Utamaro to Degas. Goyo's intimate portrait of Tomi shows his vision of the modern bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) genre. Her hair is textured, each strand painstakingly carved. The layer of shimmering mica lends the work a luminescence, while the blush of pink on her skin and the folds of fabric on her form give Tomi sense of presence. Goyo completed Woman Combing Her Hair during his lifetime. The blocks for this design were carved by Masazo Koike and printed by Kanzo Somekawa.
About the artist
Goyo Hashiguchi (born Kiyoshi Hashiguchi) was born in Kagoshima to Kanemitsu Hashiguchi, a Shijo-style painter. Goyo began his career in Kano painting at age 10, moving to Tokyo in 1899 to study with the leading painter Gaho Hashimoto. He soon shifted to Western-style painting under the tutelage of Seiki Kuroda at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, where he graduated at the top of his class in 1905. Shortly thereafter, the prominent Shin Hanga publisher Shozaburo Watanabe convinced him to try his hand at printmaking. Watanabe published Goyo’s first woodblock print, Nude After Bathing in 1915. Goyo’s sensitive portrayal of women in a delicate, serene and infinitely graceful mode led to his immediate popularity.
Unlike many Shin Hanga print artists, Goyo Hashiguchi established his own workshop. His standards were so high that he rarely allowed his editions to run more than eighty prints. This decision resulted in some of the most technically superb woodblock prints to be produced since the late 18th century. On February 24, 1921, Goyo died from an ear infection, the aftermath of a severe case of influenza. Goyo’s entire artistic career spanned 15 short years, of which only the last five were spent producing prints. He completed a total of 14 prints. At his death, many of Goyo's works were left in various stages of completion. Members of his family completed these designs following his death.