The Woodblock Print
The woodblock print is in very good condition with its translucent title page attached. The print has minor edge wear, but nothing significant, while still having strong colors throughout.
Nōga Taikan (“A Great Collection of Prints of Noh Plays”) was published in Tokyo between 1925 and 1930 by Tsukioka Kōgyo. The original designs for Volumes 2 through 5 were drawn by Kōgyo, but the drawings for twenty-four of the prints in Volume 1 were created after Kōgyo’s death by Matsuno Sōfū, Kōgyo’s very talented protégé.
The five volumes of two hundred prints (forty in each volume) are covered in beige silk twill and the prints are tied into the bindings by silk cords, brads, and internal stitching.
Each print is a scene from the noh play represented, similar to the same scene as it appeared on stage. The prints are very simple: the main actors at an important moment in the play, the artist’s signature, and the artist’s seal. The prints reveal at most few parts of the stage and its backdrop, and when so, only faintly. The prints do not reveal the name of the plays represented, but each print in all five volumes is preceded by a piece of translucent paper on which the title of the play, the actors by type (shite, waki, tsure, kyōgen, kokata) and name of character in his role appear in Japanese.
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.