Largest Collection of Tsukioka Kōgyo’s Woodblock Prints Digitized by the University of Pittsburgh Library System

Susanne Auerbach's picture

Repost from H-Japan

 

Contact: Hiroyuki N. Good, Japanese Studies Librarian, hng2@pitt.edu

 

The University of Pittsburgh Library System, which holds the largest collection of artist Tsukioka Kōgyo’s (1869-1927) color woodblock prints outside of Japan, has digitized four complete sets that depict Noh theatre. This online collection comprises the largest digital representation of Kōgyo’s work freely available online. The set contains: Nōgaku zue 能樂圖繪 (Pictures of  Noh), Nōgaku hyakuban 能楽百番 (Prints of One Hundred Noh Plays), Nōga taikan 能画大鑑 (A Great Collection of Prints of Noh Plays), and Kyōgen gojūban 狂言五十番 (Fifty Kyōgen Plays) and is available via the Kōgyo: The Art of Noh website at: http://exhibit.library.pitt.edu/kogyo/

 

The Artist

As the preeminent graphic artist of the Noh and kyōgen theatres, Tsukioka Kōgyo created hundreds of Japanese woodblock prints, paintings, magazine illustrations, and postcard pictures of Noh and kyōgen plays. Kōgyo also produced paintings and prints of flowers, birds, and even wartime scenes, but he is best known and remembered for his theatre paintings and prints. All the prints were published in Tokyo between 1897 and 1930.

 

Noh Theatre

Noh theatre, a well-known and long-established art form that originated in 14th century Japan, is a combination of dance and drama that plays on themes of the supernatural and the natural world.

 

The Collection

The online collection contains 632 digitized prints from the four sets, along with over 200 Japanese synopses of Noh plays with English summaries provided by P.G. O’Neill in his A Guide to Nō (Hinoki Shoten, 1964).

 

As described by Elizabeth Oyler, professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, “Kōgyo is recognized as a master whose art imbued traditional woodblock printing with the new techniques and perspectives of the global modernity of the turn of the 20th century.  His four collections of Noh prints embrace the breadth of his artistic vision and provide invaluable documentation of the world of the Noh theatre.  Access to a carefully catalogued and cross-referenced digital archive containing all four collections is a treasure trove for scholars of studio arts, art history, the Noh and theatre history, and world history.”