Usugumo Chapter 19


Ogata Gekko (1859 - 1920)

Chapter 19 from Ogata Gekko’s, Fifty Four Chapters of Tale of Genji. The Tale of Genji was written shortly after the year 1000 in Japan’s Heian era, when the capital was situated at Heian-kyo(present day Kyoto). Usugumo – Wisp of … Read Full Description

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Full Title:

Usugumo Chapter 19




Ogata Gekko (1859 - 1920)


In good condition.



Image Size: 

x 347mm
Usugumo Chapter 19 - Antique Print from 1898

Genuine antique



Chapter 19 from Ogata Gekko’s, Fifty Four Chapters of Tale of Genji.

The Tale of Genji was written shortly after the year 1000 in Japan’s Heian era, when the capital was situated at Heian-kyo(present day Kyoto).

Usugumo – Wisp of Clouds When the snow had melted in the Twelfth Month, Genji paid his next visit to take the little princess to Kyoto. The Akashi lady resumed the struggle to control herself, which was not entirely successful. As the little girl tried to jump innocently into the carriage, the lady approached as far as the veranda to which it had been drawn up. Only the nurse and a young woman called Shosho got into the carriage, taking with them the sword and a sacred guardian doll. Genji could imagine the lady’s anguish at sending her child off to a distant foster mother. She wrote a poem asking when she could see her daughter next.

Taking more than usual care, Genji chose robes for the visit to the Akashi lady in Oi. His trousers were beautifully dyed and scented, and over them he had thrown an informal court robe of white lined with red. Looking after him as he came to say goodbye, his radiance competed with the evening sunlight. The little girl clung to his trousers and begged to go with him. Looking fondly down at her, Genji sad “I’ll be back tomorrow”. Murasaki felt vaguely apprehensive.

Fujitsubo had passed away in the Third Month at the age of thirty-six. As she had offered her faith and devotion to everybody, grief descended on the court. Not wanting to be seen weeping, Genji withdrew to the chapel, and spent the day there in tears. Wisps of cloud at the crest of the mountains in the clear evening light were colored in gray, which resembled his mourning weeds.


Ogata Gekko (1859-1920)

Gekko’s was born Nakagami Masanosuke in the Kobayashi district of Edo (Tokyo), and lived most of his life in the same district.  His father was a wealthy merchant who ran the family business which had been established for several generations.

Gekko was orphaned at the age of 16 when his father died and his family lost their businesses and had to open a lantern shop. The teenage Gekko survived by designing rickshaws and selling his drawings. His rickshaws were shown at the Interior Exhibition of Industrial Design as examples of fine contemporary craftsmanship. 

After this and after producing an immense number of paintings and sketches, he was recognized by such important figures as the artist Kawanabe Kyosai (often credited for ‘discovering’ Gekko) and the famous Ogata family, direct descendants of one of Japan’s most celebrated artists, Ogata Korin (who was himself older brother to the legendary artist, Ogata Kenzan). Ogata Koya adopted him and the young artist appended  their family name to the name he gave himself, Gekko, which means ‘Moonlight’.

Though Gekko would later become a founding member and developer of several important art institutions, including Nihon Bijutsu Kyôkaï, Nihon Seinen Kaïga Kyôkaï (the Japan Youth Painting Association), the Academy of Japanese Art, the Bunten (the Ministry of Education’s annual juried exhibition), and an actively participating member of the Nihon Bijitsuin and the Meiji Fine Art Association, he never attended art school himself, nor did he undergo the traditional apprenticeship in a print maker’s studio. In a society that discouraged self-promotion, Gekko began his art career by preparing flyers and taking them around to various publishers and places to sell his services as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers and a designer of lacquerware and pottery.

Although his techniques were thoroughly modern, Gekko considered himself to be firmly rooted in the ukiyo-e tradition. Though he had no teacher himself, he had some outstanding pupils during a 30 year teaching career, including Yamamura Toyonari (Koka), his son Ogata Getsuzan, Kanamori Nanko, and Tsukioka Kôgyo (1869-1927), whose mother had married the Meiji Period’s other great artist, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.


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