Ogata Gekko – Monkey Reaching for the Moon

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Additional information


Gekkō, Ogata


(A+) Excellent Condition










Shikishiban (8"x9")


Birds / Beasts

A monkey trying to capture the moon’s reflection in water is a theme that comes up repeatedly in Zen paintings. The origins of the image stems from a Buddhist story of monkeys attempting to catch what they see inside a well – which is a reflection of the full moon. As the monkeys continue to reach into the water, but unable to grasp the prize the branch from which they hang upon breaks.

Part of a series of shikishiban-sized woodblocks that Gekko produced based on the areas of people, animals, and scenery.

The Woodblock Print

This original shikishiban sized woodblock is in very fine to excellent condition. Full and intact margins, a clean verso, lovely color and bokashi shading.

About the Artist

Ogata Gekkō (尾形月耕, 1859-1920) was a Japanese artist who is considered one of the great ukiyo-e woodblock print artists of the late 19th century. Born on November 25, 1859, in Edo (modern-day Tokyo), he was the son of a samurai family. Gekko studied under Kawanabe Kyosai and Taiso Yoshitoshi, two prominent ukiyo-e artists, during the Meiji period. 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, but his talents soon caught the attention of publishers and collectors, and he started creating woodblock prints.

Gekko’s artwork reflected the changing times in Japan during the Meiji period, as the country opened up to the West and modernized rapidly. His prints often featured contemporary subjects, such as train stations, factories, and steamships, as well as historical scenes and traditional Japanese motifs. His style was characterized by bold outlines, strong contrasts, and vivid colors, which were achieved through the use of multiple woodblocks.

In addition to woodblock prints, Gekko also created paintings and illustrations. His work was exhibited both in Japan and overseas, including at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He was also a member of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club and the Japan Art Association.

Gekko was active in the Japanese art community and contributed to the development of the art form. He taught at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and was involved in the publication of the influential art magazine “Taiyo.” He also collaborated with other artists, such as Tsukioka Kogyo and Mizuno Toshikata, to create joint print series.

Gekko continued to create art until his death in 1920.