Hashiguchi Goyō

Hashiguchi Kiyoshi was born in 1880 in Kagoshima. His father, Hashiguchi Kanemizu, was a samurai and amateur painter in the Shijo style. His father hired a painting teacher Kano in 1899 when Kiyoshi was ten years old. Kiyoshi then entered the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, from which he graduated, top of his class, in 1905. It was then that he chose the pseudonym Goyo, in reference to the five needle pine trees in his father's garden, which he was particularly fond of.

The first commission he was given was the illustration and layout of Sōseki Natsume's novel I am a Cat in 1905. Subsequently, he was brought in to illustrate other books by Futabatei Shimei, Roan Uchida, Sōhei Morita, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Nagai Kafu and Kyōka Izumi.

In 1907, Goyō was noticed for an ukiyo-e oil painting at Bunten's first exhibition in 1907; however, the public was less enthusiastic about his oil paintings in subsequent exhibitions.

In 1911, he was again noticed for a ukiyo-e poster drawn for the Mitsukoshi department store. Goyō then became a serious follower of ukiyo-e. He read and studied original works and reproductions. In particular, his interest in the great classical ukiyo-e artists led him to write several articles on Utamaro, Hiroshige and Harunobu. From 1914, he contributed further articles to various studies of ukiyo-e published in the magazines Journal of Art (Bijutsu shinpo) and Ukiyo-e.

In 1915, urged by the publisher Shin-Hanga Watanabe Shozaburo, he drew a print intended to be printed under Watanabe's direction: this was The Bath (Yuami). While Watanabe aspired to continue this collaboration, Goyō decided otherwise. In 1916-1917, he became the supervisor of the reproduction of 12 volumes entitled Japanese Prints (Yamato nishiki-e) and appropriated the techniques of the engravers and printers. At the same time, he drew from live models. From 1918 until his death, he personally directed the engraving, printing and publishing of his own work. During this period he made 13 prints - four landscapes, one nature scene with ducks and eight portraits of women. His body of work thus numbers fourteen prints, if we include The Bath.

In the late 1920s, Hashiguchi, whose health was already fragile, contracted meningitis. He supervised his last work The Hot Spring Hotel from his deathbed, but was unable to complete it in person. He died in February 1921. The master's untimely death ended a brief two-year period during which he had produced all of his masterpieces.

However, Goyō had left several sketches from which his older brother and nephew created seven more prints. The engraving and printing of these were commissioned to Maeda Kentaro and Hirai Koichi. Many years later, Goyō's older brother used other drawings to create ten new prints. These were published in limited numbers with the same quality as the past prints. The printing was supervised by Hashiguchi Yasuo, Goyō's nephew.

Goyō Hashiguchi's prints are of extreme technical quality. As soon as they were published, they were sold very easily, despite their very high prices. The wooden blocks that were used to print the fourteen original prints and many of the prints themselves were destroyed during the 1923 Kantō earthquake. As a result, Goyō's works have become the most prized of all Shin-Hanga prints today. Nevertheless, reprints of Goyō's prints are also on the market today, at a much lower price. Most of these reprints are marked with a small seal in the side margins, unlike the original prints. (source wikidépia)

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