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 last century (c 1900). There are three known versions of this print; this is the first edition published by Matsuki Heikichi, whereas later versions were published by Ryoshin and Kawaguchi.
A silver moon dominates this striking nocturnal scene, which shows seven quails among autumn grasses. In Japanese art, the subject is common in the Tosa painting school.
As fighting birds, the quail (uzura) is a traditional symbol of courage and victory in battle.
The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer
The Woodblock Print
This print is in good condition with strong colors and no discolorations affecting the print. It has a few spots of foxing throughout which can be seen in the image. A small tear has been taped along the top edge. A possible small stain is present in the dark foreground, but blends into that dark part of the print. As is typical for this print and other Kogyo shikishiban, the print has thin and/or trimmed margins. The silver moon still has its full luster.
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.