The treatment of realism and the traditional image of a woman at her vanity are both expertly expressed in Goyo's masterpiece Woman Applying Powder . This iconic image was printed as a national postal stamp in Japan at the beginning of the 20th Century. The complexity of the pattern and shading in relation to the folds of this woman's kimono is one of the many aspects of this sensual print that has made it so vastly popular. This is a lifetime print. The blocks were engraved by Takano Shichinosuke and printed by Kanzo Somekawa
Japanese artist Goyo Hashiguchi (né Kiyoshi Hashiguchi) was born in Kagoshima to Kanemitsu Hashiguchi, a samurai and a Shijo-style painter. It is said that the five-needle pine (goyo no matsu) in his father’s garden inspired Goyo’s artist name. He began his career in Kano painting at age 10, moving to Tokyo in 1899 to study with the leading Kano painter Gaho Hashimoto. He soon shifted to Western-style painting under Seiki Kuroda at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, graduating at the top of his class in 1905. Shortly thereafter, the prominent Tokyo woodblock print publisher Watanabe convinced him to become a Japanese woodblock artist. Watanabe published Goyo’s first woodblock print, Nude After Bathing in 1915. His sensitive portrayal of women in a delicate, serene and infinitely graceful mode led to his immediate popularity. This mastery of line and composition is equally apparent in his tender drawings. These drawings are extremely scarce.
Goyo Hashiguchi, an active perfectionist, was not satisfied with Watanabe’s workmanship and consequently set up his own workshop. As a Japanese woodblock artist, 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. His death at so early an age was a tragedy to the art world. Goyo’s entire artistic career spanned 15 short years, of which only the last five were as a Japanese woodblock artist. He completed only 14 prints. At his death, Goyo left many works in various stages of completion. Some were all but finished, with full-color proofs already completed; for others, the key block impressions had been taken, and still others had barely progressed beyond the preliminary sketches. Members of Goyo’s family brought these unfinished materials to fruition.