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Goyo (1880 - 1921)

Woman Holding a Firefly Cage

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: Designed July 1920
Size (H x W): 18 x 11.3 (inches)
Seals: Goyo, Hashiguchi mie (reverse), inscribed "honke yori dasu (from the family)" (on reverse)
Edition: Printed c. 1949. One of the posthumous prints based on drawings left to Goyo's family after his death in 1921. This design was never printed during Goyo's lifetime.
Signature: Goyo ga
Condition: Very good impression, faint surface soiling.



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 design for this print was designed during Goyo's lifetime, the print was never completed it was printed posthumously. On the reverse: sealed "mie," inscribed "honke yori dasu (from the family)."

About the artist

Goyo Hashiguchi (born Kiyoshi Hashiguchi) was born in Kagoshima to Kanemitsu Hashiguchi, a Shijo-style painter. Goyo Hashiguchi 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 woodblock 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.