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GOYO Japanese Woodblock Print - Geisha Applying Powder 1920 MASTERPIECE

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GOYO Japanese Woodblock Print - Geisha Applying Powder 1920 MASTERPIECE


Geisha Applying Powder

Date: originally published 1918, this print is a later edition, guaranteed to be hand carved and hand printed in Japan from recarved blocks.
Size: large oban approx. 15.5" x 21.25" (most later editions of this print are smaller than the original, this print is the same size as Goyo's first edition)
Condition: Fine, no flaws
Impression: Fine, with mica background and gauffrage in kimono design (see photos below). Note the excellent mica registration on the detail scan of the face below.
Color: Fine, deep saturated color, excellent texture and bleed through
Documentation: The New Wave illustration 128, page 127; also page 40 of The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties Hotei, 2000; this print also appears in almost every catalog referencing Shin Hanga and 20th Century Japanese art. It is one of the most recognizable prints of the era.

This print is considered by academics and collectors to be the finest example of a 20th century Geisha print.  A copy of the 1st edition in poor condition sold at auction (Christies 2001) with a hammer price of $17,000 + Christies fees.

HASHIGUCHI GOYO was one of the most celebrated shin hanga artists, known especially for his prints of beautiful women or bijin-ga. The design and carving of Goyo's prints is technically masterful, and they were lavishly printed, often with fine mica backgrounds. Goyo's standards were so high that only prints of superior quality were sold.

Goyo started his studies in traditional Japanese painting, but soon switched over to Western style painting, studying under the noted painter, Kuroda Seiki. After graduating from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1905, he began to work as a book designer and illustrator. Goyo continued to paint and had a growing interest in traditional Japanese printmaking. In 1911, he designed a ukiyo-e style poster for the Mitsukoshi department store, which won him great acclaim. This led to further studies into the art of ukiyo-e, and eventually to a collaboration with the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo.

Watanabe had many skilled carvers and printers working in his business, but lacked Western style artists to design his new shin hanga prints. In 1915, Watanabe challenged Goyo to design a print for his publishing shop, hoping that a long-term relationship could be established. The print that was produced, "Bathing", was a lovely image of high quality. Even so, Goyo was not satisfied by the printmaking standards of Watanabe's shop. To Watanabe's dismay, he ended their collaboration after just one print.

During 1916-17, Goyo supervised work on a 12 volume set of books called "Japanese Color Prints". These books contained reproductions of famous ukiyo-e prints by Hiroshige and other artists. This work gave Goyo a chance to learn more about printmaking, and in 1918 he hired a carver and printer for his own workshop. He worked as a printmaker until 1921, when he died of an illness.

Only fourteen prints were completed during Goyo's lifetime. Due to Goyo's exacting standards, these prints were published in very small editions, usually less than eighty in number. They were very expensive to create and therefore, were priced much higher than other shin hanga prints of the time. The blocks for these fourteen prints and many of the prints themselves were destroyed in the Kanto earthquake of 1923.

Many years after Goyo's death, his brother used Goyo's remaining designs as the basis for ten more prints. These were published with the same standards as the earlier prints and in limited numbers. The printing was supervised by Goyo's nephew, Hashiguchi Yasuo. Today, because of their rarity and extraordinary beauty, works by Goyo are among the most highly prized of all shin hanga prints.


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