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Goyo (1880-1921)

Woman Holding a Firefly Cage

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Goyo (1880-1921)
Woman Holding a Firefly Cage
Woodblock Print
Designed July 1920
11.3" x 18"
Goyo ga
Very good impression and state

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About the art

Though this print may seem minimalistic at first glance, the delicate touches tell a different story. While the kimono is undecorated, the obi around her waist is ornately patterned and carefully layered. Her thin tendrils of hair create a sense of transparency. A fan hangs from a strap wrapped around her wrist. Though the shape of the fan is simple, Goyo adds an expressive image of fish swimming down a stream. Fluttering around the print are several small fireflies, suggested by a few well-placed lines. The key block for this print is thought to be lifetime, never completed it was printed posthumously.  On the reverse: Sealed Mie, Inscribed Honke yori dasu (from the family)

About the artist

Goyo Hashiguchi (né 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 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 artists, Goyo 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, Goyo left many works in various stages of completion. Members of his family completed these designs following his death.

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