highlights international perspective

Friedrich (Fritz) Capelari, (Austrian, 1884-1950)

Woman Before a Mirror

Color woodblock print. With artist's monogram, FC, followed by Tokyo 1915, and artist's name in hiragana on the fan in the foreground, Kaperari. Published by Watanabe Shôzaburô.

41 by 17.9 cm

While the subject of a single standing beauty in an interior, particularly before a mirror, is classically Japanese, their expressions are not. The girl with the Pekingese looks bored, and the beauty before the mirror actually looks a bit irritated as she glances over her shoulder. This is a foreign element. Traditional Japanese depictions of beauties are more mysterious; usually we, the viewer, assume the role of unseen voyeur. Here, the beauty seems well aware of our intrusion.

Although he was happy with his collaborations with Capelari, Watanabe needed something more 'Japanese' for both his export and domestic market. He approached another young artist, Hashiguchi Goyô (1880-1921), one of the top graduates of the Tôkyô Bijutsu Gakkô (Tokyo School of Fine Arts). Here was a Japanese artist who was trained in Western-style painting, who happened to be a very serious student of classical ukiyo-e (having written monographs about three important artists). Watanabe convinced Goyô to collaborate on a single print of a beauty in 1915, but apparently Goyô, trained in the Western style with emphasis on individual creativity, was not comfortable with working with a publisher (perhaps Watanabe in particular) and opted to go his own way and self-publish thereafter.

References:
Merritt, Points of Contrast, 1993, pp. 32-35, no. 6, and p. 63
The New Wave, 1993, pp. 45-56 and pp. 209-210, pl. 284
Yokohama Museum of Art, Eyes Towards Asia: Ukiyo-e Artists from Abroad, 1996, p. 67, no. 71-a

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Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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