The Hell Courtesan

by Gekko (1859 - 1920)

Current Status

The Hell Courtesan by Gekko (1859 - 1920)

Original Gekko (1859 - 1920) Japanese Woodblock Print
The Hell Courtesan

Series; Gekko's Essays

Gekko's Essays - Begun in 1886, "Gekko's Essays" (Zuihitsu) is a wonderful series encompassing a wide range of subjects. Gekko depicts figures from history and mythology, including famous beauties, poets, scholars, and warriors, along with a few supernatural creatures. These handsome designs are rendered in Gekko's distinctive painterly style, with soft washes of color and flowing calligraphic line work, expertly printed by Matsuki Heikichi to capture these qualities. The series was completed by 1887, but woodblocks are found with dates up to 1899, proving the popularity of the designs, which continued to be printed. A great choice to collect or display.

The Hell Courtesan - Fantastic scene depicting an encounter between the courtesan Jigoku Dayu, whose name literally means "Lady of Hell," and the Priest Ikkyu. He walked about each New Year holding a staff with a skull attached to remind revelers of the inevitability of death. He enlightened the young courtesan as to the evils of her profession, and she became a convert to religious life. The seated young beauty is elegantly regal, wearing a traditional monk's mantle over a kimono patterned with a demon and scenes of hell. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has this image in its collection. A beautifully detailed scene illustrating this famous tale.

Artist - Gekko (1859 - 1920)

Image Size - 12 7/8" x 8 5/8" + margins as shown

Condition - This print with excellent detail as shown. Backed with paper. Stitching holes at side, repaired. Slight toning and soiling, a few creases and marks. Please see photos for details.

The Hell Courtesan by Gekko (1859 - 1920)
The Hell Courtesan by Gekko (1859 - 1920)

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