Hirano Hakuhô – Before the Mirror


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Hakuhô, Hirano


(A) Very Fine Condition




Mid Edition






Oban (10"x15")


Women / Geisha

A beautiful portrait of a woman kneeling before a mirror atop a low dressing table. She turns her face away as she pats the side of her neck with a blue and white towel, wearing a red tie-dyed kimono with an intricate design of waterwheels and stylized waves, with a green basket weave patterned collar, tied with a brown and black triangle print obi.

Originally printed in 1932 (based on the book “The Female Image”), there seems to be conflicting information regarding whether this print was published by Watanabe (but without a seal) or privately published. This print is without the circular seal of Shobisha (used in the 1950s, see our other copy) which was known for publishing the purchased blocks of Kawaguchi & Sakai when they went out of business (including many Hasui prints published by them). It is also thought that this print was re-issued later, but did not have the Shobisha seal on it. Perhaps the confusion regarding Watanabe is because other prints by this artist were published by them, but we are unable to find any instances of this print with Watanabe seals.

The Woodblock Print

This oban-sized woodblock is in very fine condition; clean and intact margins, a clean verso, strong color. Toning present in the margins, residue of tape staining on the verso margins.

A very rare and beautiful bijin-ga print.

About the Artist

Very little is known about Hirano Hakuhô (平野白峰), who was a Nihonga (Japanese-style) painter. He was born in Kyoto and appears to have been self-taught. In the 1930s he published a small number of prints with Shôzaburô Watanabe or privately published, some of which were issued in limited, numbered editions. There seem to be six known designs that were published.


Reigle Stephens, Amy, gen. ed., The new wave: Twentieth-century Japanese prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 1993, p. 126, no. 127
Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, p. 153, no. 209