Friday, January 29, 2016

Dragon Painter

Totoya Hokkei Woman Painting a Dragon woodblock print ca. 1832 

This beautiful image is a print, so multiple copies of it exist in various locations, including the Denver Art Museum and the Harvard Art Museum here in the states. I don't know if the painting is illustrating a particular tale or poem or if it is just a fanciful invention. The dragon the artist is painting floats up off the paper, which is certainly the way it feels when an artist is deep into the act of creating.

Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850), was a prolific and successful Japanese artist who worked in numerous genres. He started off life as a fishmonger before turning to painting, eventually becoming one of the great Katsushika Hokusai's first students. Hokkei is best known for his work in the ukiyo-e style depicting the "floating world" of courtesans, actors, theatricals and other aspects of the urban pleasure districts which flourished during the prosperous Edo period. 

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