A beautiful and quiet scene of the elderly scholar Taikobo (the Chinese Tai Gongwang) sitting on a rocky outcrop fishing. He fished without bait because he was not really interested in catching fish, but rather in using the quiet time to think. He is wrapped in a tan robe, seated on a fur animal skin, quietly watching the line for any sign of movement…. quietly ignoring the banners of the emperor’s procession appear over the distant hillside, the mountains below rendered in pale gray.
Gekko’s Essay – Gekko Zuihitsu
The series Gekko Zuihitsu (Gekko’s Essay) is among Ogata Gekkō‘s major works, created in 1886 and 1887. The series was published by Matsuki Heikichi in 1887 and consists of 47 designs plus a title page. The format of the single sheets is oban tate-e (portrait format).
The subjects are a diverse collection – history, mythology, warriors, poets, common and not so common people. Gekko’s great contemporary Yoshitoshi had created around the same time a large series with no focus on a specific content, the series Tsuki Hyakushi (“Hundred Aspects of the Moon”). But while Yoshitoshi’s hundred designs have the image of the moon as common bond, the Gekko series is missing any formal or contents-related bond. Only the design frame with title and text cartouche and the typical Gekko style of composition and mostly subdued colors make the prints recognizable as part of a series.
The Woodblock Print
This aiban woodblock is in fine condition with good colors, bleed through, intact margins and a clean verso. Some minor soiling, but even. A repaired tear in one of the margins. Exceptionally rich color.
About the Artist
Ogata Gekkō (尾形月耕, 1859-1920) was a Japanese artist best known as a painter and a designer of ukiyo-e woodblock prints. He was self-taught in art, won numerous national and international prizes, and was one of the earliest Japanese artists to win an international audience.
Gekkō was self-taught in art and began by decorating porcelain and rickshaws, and designing flyers for the pleasure quarters. Around 1881 he took the surname Ogata at the insistence of a descendant of the painter Ogata Kōrin. He soon was designing prints and illustrating books and newspapers. In 1886 Gekkō produced the print series Gekkō Zuihitsu (月耕随筆, “Gekkō’s Random Sketches”). In 1888, he married an art student of his, Tai Kiku, his second marriage, and changed his family name to Tai. The First Sino-Japanese War was the subject of a number of triptychs he designed in 1894–95. From the 1890s onward Gekkō won a number of art prizes, both national and international, one of the earliest Japanese artists to win international attention.