Home‎ > ‎Artists‎ > ‎Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972)‎ > ‎

Deep Blue Sky from the Album of Beauties by Kiyokata

Fan design sample print, Kneeling Nudes

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Deep Blue Sky 靑き星

from the Album of Beauties by Kiyokata

by Kaburaki Kiyokata, 1914

Fan design sample print, Kneeling Nudes

IHL Cat. #1816

About This Print

From an album of twelve prints, this print one of four woodblock prints in the album, depicts two geisha with their distinctive white makeup holding a lantern under a dark blue night sky. Each of the four woodblock prints in the album is likely an original design by Kiyokata for the album.

This makeup has an interesting history.  Originally it was worn by male aristocrats when they had an audience with the emperor.  In premodern times the emperor, considered a sacred presence, received his subjects while hidden from their sight by a thin scrim.  The audience chamber was lit by candlelight.  The white makeup reflected whatever light there was, making it easier for the emperor to distinguish who was who.

Dancers and actors later took up the practice. Not only does the white  makeup look well on stage, but it also echoes the value placed on light skin.1

The Artist's Notes
The album includes explanations in Japanese by Kiyokata about his intentions and drawing techniques for each of the prints.  His notes on this print are reproduced below.

click on image to enlarge

About the Album of Beauties by Kiyokata 清方美人画譜, 1914

This album of twelve small prints, four woodblock prints and eight three-color collotypes, was issued in May 1914 by Nihon Bijutsu Gakuin 日本美術学院, the correspondence fine arts school founded by the novelist Taguchi Kikutei (1875-1943) (the pen name of Taguchi Kyōjirō), and for which Kiyokata taught. 

For detailed information on the album see this collection's print Dormitory in Spring Rain from the Album of Beauties by Kyokata.

1 Geisha: A Life, Mineko Iwasaki, Washington Square Press, 2002, p. 141.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1816
 Title or Description
[as printed on page the album print was mounted on]

 Deep Blue Sky (also seen translated as "Blue Stars")
 Series Album of Beauties by Kiyokata
 清方美人画譜 Kiyokata bijin gafu
 Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972)
Kiyokata 清方 
 Publication Date
Printed April 30, 1914 大正三年四月三十日印刷
Published May 5, 1914 大正三年五月五日發行
[as shown in the colophon to the album]
 Edition first and only

 發行者copied from colophon 著作
copied from colophon
Publisher: Taguchi Kyōjirō 田口鏡次郎 [note: Taguchi Kyōjirō (1875-1943) wrote under the pen name Taguchi Kikutei.]
Publishing house: Nihon Bijutsu Gakuin 日本美術学院

copied from colophon
copied from colophon
 Printer: unread 一噌定次郎
 Printing house: Nihon Bijutsu Gakuin printing department 日本美術学院印刷部
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre shin hanga (new prints)
 Format chuban
 H x W Paper 7 3/4 x 5 3/16 in. (19.7 x 13.2 cm)
 H x W Image 7 3/8 x 4 13/16 in. (18.7 x 12.2 cm) 
 Collections This Print Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S2003.8.400 and FSC-GR-780.134; British Museum 1991,0805,0.18; National Diet Library Call No. 109-280
 Reference Literature