Goyo Hashiguchi, Woman in a Long Undergarment


Artist: Goyo Hashiguchi (1880-1921)
Title: Woman in a Long Undergarment
Publisher: Self-published
Date: 1920
Dimensions: 14.7 x 49.2 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Loose, languid lines mark this design in the traditional hashira-e [lit. pillar pictures] format. Falling out of fashion throughout the nineteenth century, Goyo revives the form in order to enunciate the slender and elegant figure of his model Kodaira Tomi. The strong flowing outlines of the draped robe hark back to the woodblock prints of Utamaro Kikugawa (1753-1806), the recognised master of the bijin-ga (portraits of beautiful women) genre. The kimono has been embossed, patterned with stippled butterflies and flowers. The summer theme is in contrast with the melancholic tint or fatigue in Tomi's eyes, as she looks downwards vacantly. The textural richness of the mica background against the subdued colour palettes of beige and pastel green provides the whole vignette with a feel of unaffected grace and tranquility.

Goyo Hashiguchi

In the genre of Japanese Art, Goyo Hashiguchi was a painter and printmaker and one of the key artists of the beginning of the 20th century in Japan. Born in Kagoshima, he received an early influence in the arts from his father who dabbled in painting. It is believed that at the age of fourteen Goyo studied locally with the Kano painter Uchiyama Ikkan (1823-97). In 1899, he moved to Tokyo where he studied nihonga and yoga styles of painting. In 1904 he began to receive commissions for illustrations, lithographs and woodblock printed covers particularly from literary and art magazines. Some of his works appeared on book covers by popular writers of the day such as Natsume Soseki and Tanizaki Jun’ichiro. In 1911 he won a poster competition for the prestigious Mitsukoshi department store with a design of a young woman dressed in kimono with a fashionable contemporary pattern and sporting an up-to-date hairstyle. From then onwards, Goyo became more interested in traditional ukiyo-e forms from the Edo period with admiration for artists such as Hiroshige I Utagawa, Suzuki Harunobu and Kitagawa Utamaro.

In 1915, urged by the shin-hanga publisher Watanabe Shozaburo, he designed a print for artisans to produce under Watanabe’s direction. ‘Woman at Her Bath’ became an iconic design. Without the use of shading and using only defined lines, Goyo masterfully depicted a woman's body and graceful charm. After deepening his understanding of the production process of woodblock prints, he decided to self-publish his own designs. His craftmanship was of extremely high standard from the paper he chose to the lush pigments applied. He also drew from live models, capturing women and their gestures in a pensive, almost meditative state.

His body of work only amounts to a handful of woodblock prints, as the artist met his untimely death at 41 years old following a sudden illness. Despite this, with their elegance and a great deal of subtlety, his pictures of beauties have made Goyo highly appraised as one of the best Taisho artists in both Japan and overseas.

More Information
Print FormatOther
ArtistGoyo Hashiguchi
SubjectBeauty & Female, Shunga Erotica, Modern/Shin-Hanga
Dimensions14.7 x 49.2 cm
Condition ReportSome creases and mica abraded. Backed. Slight fading and discolouring due to previous mounting.