Tsukioka Kogyo – Bluebird and Waterlily


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Kôgyo, Tsukioka


(A) Very Fine Condition






Actor, Noh Play


Shikishiban (8"x9")

One of about fifty kacho-e (bird and flower prints) in the shikishiban (almost square) format designed by Tsukioka Kōgyo for the publisher Daikokuya (Matsuki Heikichi) around the turn of 20th century.

Ducks are a time-honored subject in East Asian art. Many Japanese paintings and prints portray ducks among sno-covered reeds or bamboo. In East Asian art and literature, mandarin ducks (oshidori), which mate for life, symbolize affection, mutual consideration, and fidelity. Wild ducks (kamo), by contrast, epitomize the qualities of felicity.

Kōgyo’s Shikishiban Kacho-e

Kōgyo’s oeuvre also comprises some fifty shikishiban prints. While these works include some landscape compositions, most are illustrations of the natural world, a genre referred to as Kachō-e (literally, “flower and bird pictures”). Kōgyo was one of a number of artists who designed such (export) shikishiban. His teacher Gekkō [Ogata Gekkō (1859-1920)], the lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin (1807-91), Ohara Koson [Ohara Koson (1877-1945)], and Yamamoto Shōun can all be counted among the artists enlisted by the Daikokuya to design these compositions.

Many of these squarish shikishiban prints are thought to have been issued by the Daikokiya, who continually explored new avenues for print subjects and types primarily destined for the export market in the late 19th and early 20th century (a number carry a seal verso reading ‘Made in Japan,” which was required for the export to the United States).

The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 40.

The Woodblock Prints

This woodblock is in very good condition with intact borders, strong colors, no discoloration within the print. Some discoloration in the margins, including possible toning, but this is relegated to the margins and vero. A few small stains on the verso but they don’t show through to the front. “Made in Japan” stamp on the verso including a “No 41” stamp.

About the Artist

Tsukioka Kōgyo (月岡 耕漁, Tsukioka Kōgyo), sometimes called Kōgyo Sakamaki (坂巻 耕漁, Sakamaki Kōgyo), was a Japanese artist of the Meiji period (April 18, 1869 – February 25, 1927). He was a student and adopted son of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, and also studied with Ogata Gekkō. Although Kōgyo sometimes painted other subjects, most of his career centered around pictures of Japanese noh theatre, either as large-scale paintings or colored woodblock prints. Many of the latter were published in series and sold as multi-volume sets. Some sets, such as Nōgaku zue, have been preserved as albums in their original bindings, including accordion-style bindings known as orihon, while other sets such as Nōga taikan, were issued in sewn bindings known as yamato toji.

Unlike most ukiyo-e prints, his works have an almost painterly quality and use gold and silver for the Noh costume embellishments. Kogyo’s woodblock prints required very skilled engravers and printers to produce. Kogyo died in Tokyo at the age of 58.