Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年)

Print: Ghost of Okyo (Okyo no Yūrei - 応挙の幽霊)

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Dates: circa 1882,created
Dimensions: 9.125 in,6.875 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Yoshitoshi zui hitsu (芳年随筆)

Related links: Hagi Uragami Museum of Art; National Diet Library; Rijksmuseum ; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Walters Museum of Art;

Physical description:

Lafcadio Hearn wrote:

Tradition says that Okyo Maruyama was the first Japanese artist who drew a ghost. The Shogun, having invited him to his palace, said: 'Make a picture of a ghost for me.' Okyo promised to do so; but he was puzzled how to execute the order satisfactorily. A few days later, hearing that one of his aunts was very ill, he visited her. She was so emaciated that she looked like one already long dead. As he watched by her bedside, a ghastly inspiration came to him: he drew the fleshless face and long dishevelled hair, and created from that hasty sketch a ghost that surpassed all the Shogun's expectations. Afterwards Okyo became very famous as a painter of ghosts.


The curatorial files at the Walters Museum of Art says:

The famous Kyoto artist Maruyama Okyo was well known for his true-to-life paintings. It was said that his flower paintings were so real that bees tried to pollinate them. Another story, illustrated by this print, tells of the time Okyo painted a ghost so "realistically" that it came to life and frightened him.