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“Woman Applying Color to Her Lips” by Goyō Hashiguchi

Hashiguchi Goyo - Woman Applying Color to Her Lips - Walters 95879

“Woman Applying Color to Her Lips” by Goyō Hashiguchi

“Woman Applying Color to Her Lips” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a colour woodblock print, from 1920’s Japan. The artist, Goyo’s had a late call to the traditional woodblock print after a career of illustration in other media. He was inspired by the old techniques and admiration for the great portraits of beautiful women by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 – 1806).

Goyō Hashiguchi’s perfectionism led to publishing only a handful of prints, each one technically excellent with a nostalgic passion for the art of the period. The exceptional wood cutting of the black blocks to portray the intricacies of women’s hair was an Ukiyo-e tradition which Goyo has enthusiastically revived. To ensure a significant impact he also restricted his palette to a few colours. Hashiguchi had a short period of only two years to produce these superb masterworks, apart from his first print published with Watanabe before he died aged forty-two.

His blocks for the fourteen prints and many of his prints were destroyed in the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923. Most reprints are marked with a small seal in the side margin, something which does not appear on original prints. Today works by Goyō are among the most highly prized of all Shin-hanga prints.

Shin-hanga

Shin-hanga was an art movement in early 20th-century Japan that revitalised traditional woodblock prints and paintings rooted from Japan’s 17th to 19th-century artworks. The movement flourished from around 1915 to 1942 and resumed briefly from 1946 through the 1950s. Inspired by European Impressionism, the artists incorporated Western elements such as the effects of light but focused on strictly traditional themes of landscapes, famous sites, beautiful women, kabuki actors, birds and flowers.

Ukiyo-e woodblock prints were central to forming the West’s perception of Japanese art in the late 19th century. Japanese art became a prominent trend and had a strong influence on the early Impressionists such as Degas, Manet, and Monet, as well as Post-Impressionists such as van Gogh and Art Nouveau artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec. The 20th century saw a revival in Japanese printmaking genre capitalising on the Western interest in prints of traditional Japanese scenes, and the sōsaku-hanga movement promoted individualist works designed, carved, and printed by a single artist.

Goyo Hashiguchi

Reflections

  • How did Japanese art influence French Impressionists?
  • Why did Vincent van Gogh value his pictures of Japanese art some much?

Woman Applying Color to Her Lips

  • Title:                    Woman Applying Color to Her Lips
  • Alternative:        Portrait of Chiyo, a Maiko of Gion, Kyoto
  • Artist:                  Goyō Hashiguchi
  • Published:          1920
  • Culture:               Japanese
  • Writing:               Japanese
  • Material:             Woodblock print on paper
  • Dimensions:       H: 41.5 cm (16.3 in); W: 28.3 cm (11.1 in)
  • Museum:            Walters Art Museum

Goyō Hashiguchi

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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Japanese Proverb

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Photo Credit: 1) Goyō Hashiguchi [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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