Hiroaki Shotei
Takahashi Hiroaki (Shotei), 1871-1945

Make-up before the mirror
(Kagami no mae- Kesho)

with blind-printing to accentuate the curves the body, signed Hiroaki with artist's rectangular seal, Hiroaki, and publisher's seal on the lower right margin, Hanken shoyu Fusui Gabo hakko, with printer's seal on lower left, Insetsu Onotomi (printer Onotomi), ca. 1927

dai oban tate-e 6 1/2 by 11 1/4 in., 42 by 28.7 cm

This particlar design falls within a subset of bijin-ga depicting women displaying the fashions and attributes of moga (shortened from modan garu, 'modern girl'). The most recognizable (and controversial) identifying characteristic of a moga was the bobbed haircut (or sometimes long hair was fashioned into a knot at the nape of the neck which would mimic the bob). The prototypical moga was an educated and independant woman, probably employed, and usually at least perceived of as promiscuous (if not actually so).

From the 1920s into the early 1930s Japanese women began to assert themselves beyond the strict ideals of their traditional roles as good daughters, wives and mothers. Many print artists approached the subject of moga as a fresh opportunity to depcit bijin and their fashions; but some compositions also managed to convey temporal pleasures of the moga lifestyle. Appropriately, the decadence of enjoying the here and now of a fleeting, floating world is actually the very nature of ukiyo-e itself.

While Shotei was primarily a landscape artist, and a prolific one at that, when he did try his hand at bijin subjects the results were surprising. The three nudes which Shotei produced between 1927 and 1931 with the publisher Fusui Gabo are among the most provocative and desirable bijin shin-hanga.

References:
Brown, Kendall H., Light in Darkness: Woman in Japanese Prints of Early Showa (1926-1945), 1996, cat. 9
Reigle Newland, Amy, and Hamanaka Shinji, The Female Image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, 2000, no. 149
Reigle Newland, Amy, gen. ed., Printed to Perfection: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, 2004, no. 14

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site last updated
May 13, 2019

Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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