The keyblock for this print was made the year before Goyo died, but it was printed under the supervision of his nephew, Hashiguchi Yasuo, in 1952. It is one of a limited edition of 150. Goyō exposes a sensual and private act as this woman bends forward to wash her hair. The pale colors of the interior and her body are separated by the glow of mica and her contrasting jet-black hair. The room is minimalistic as it is created with few vertical and horizontal lines. The contours of her body are matched by the curves of the water basin.
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.