Ogata Gekkō – Tomoe-Gozen in Armor


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Gekkō, Ogata


(A) Very Fine Condition








Bungei Kurabu


Chuban (7"x10")


Samurai / Warrior

The renowned female warrior, Tomoe-gozen from the 11th Century. She was described as follows in “The Tale of Heike” : “Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swords-woman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an over sized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.”

One of only a limited number of kuchi-e by Ogata Gekko for the magazine Bungei Kurabu.

The Woodblock Print

This woodblock print has an image measuring approximately 7.5″x11″ (chuban) in very fine to excellent condition. Intact and clean margins and very strong color. A clean verso. Great details and excellent artistry in the figure with metallic details. A rarely seen print and in exceptional condition.

No crease to the print, simply fine paper with visible chain lines when light shines through it.

Frontispiece or Kuchi-e

Kuchi-e (口絵), literally “mouth pictures”, refers to a specific type of Japanese woodblock print that served as frontispieces for literary magazines and novels during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These prints were created by renowned artists who collaborated with publishers to produce visually striking and thematically relevant illustrations that complemented the accompanying literary works. Kuchi-e played a significant role in the popularization of ukiyo-e prints and showcased the talents of notable artists of the time (Marks, 2012).

One prominent artist associated with kuchi-e is Kaburagi Kiyokata. Known for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), Kiyokata contributed numerous kuchi-e prints to literary publications. His delicate and refined style, characterized by graceful lines and vibrant colors, perfectly captured the elegance and allure of the female subjects depicted in these prints (Kobayashi, 2014).

Another notable artist associated with kuchi-e is Toshikata Mizuno. Toshikata was renowned for his historical and warrior-themed prints. His contributions to kuchi-e included illustrations featuring samurai warriors, historical events, and traditional Japanese tales. Toshikata’s dynamic compositions and attention to detail added depth and excitement to the literary works they accompanied (Marks, 2012).

The artist Gekko Ogata was also a prolific creator of kuchi-e prints. Gekko’s versatile style allowed him to capture a wide range of subjects, including landscapes, historical scenes, and genre prints. His kuchi-e illustrations often featured depictions of natural beauty, evoking a sense of tranquility and harmony that enhanced the reading experience (Kobayashi, 2014).

Other notable artists who contributed to the world of kuchi-e include Toyohara Chikanobu, Kajita Hanko, and Yamamoto Shoun. Chikanobu specialized in portraying historical events and scenes from the kabuki theater, while Hanko was known for his depictions of beautiful women. Shoun, on the other hand, incorporated Western elements into his kuchi-e prints, reflecting the influence of European art styles at the time (Marks, 2012).


  • Kobayashi, T. (2014). Takeuchi Keishu: Nihon no Nishiki-e [Takeuchi Keishu: Japanese Woodblock Prints]. Tokyo: Gakken.
  • Marks, A. (2012). Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680-1900. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.

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.