Chokosai Eisho, fl. ca. 1795-1801
A Glimpse of the Ogiya: Hashidate, Nanakoshi and Hanabito
(Ogiya mise ryaku: Hashidate, Nanakoshi, Hanabito)
each sheet signed Eisho ga, with publisher's seal To of Yamaguchiya Chusuke, and Vever collector's seal 'HV', ca. mid-1790s
oban tate-e 15 1/8 by 28 3/8 in., 38.5 by 72 cm
Three beautiful women are seated in a brothel reception room decorated with an elaborate painting of a peacock covering the background wall. The three women are identified from right to left as the well-known and high-ranking courtesans: Hashidate, Nanakoshi and Hanabito. The title places them at the Ogiya brothel located in the Yoshiwara. All three courtesans worked at the Ogiya and seem to be engrossed in a private conversation away from their customers. Perhaps they are sharing an amusing story related to the folded love letter which Hashidate is handing to Nanakoshi.
This print was issued in two color palettes, this one, with a predominantly green background with details in pinks and purple; and a second version (probably later) with yellow foreground and with background and the tips of the peacock feathers in the left panel and Hanabito's robe printed in black while Nanakoshi's robe is printed in blue. Eisho also designed a related triptych with a ho-o (a mythical creature similar to a phoenix) mural behind three similarly arranged courtesans at a brothel which he identifies as Chojiya by Day (Chojiya hiru mise). Around 1797, Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) designed a triptych with a ho-o which was released at least twice with different names for the house (Matsubaya and Matsubaro) and the courtesans; and in 1804 he illustrated an artist (presumed to be himself) in the act of painting a ho-o on the wall of an unidentified brothel in the second volume of the illustrated book, Picture Book of the Yoshiwara's Annual Events (Seiro ehon nenju gyoji). It would seem that dramatic peacock or phoenix murals may have been a decorating fad at high-end brothels of the period, designed to capture the imagination, and wallet, of a potential patron by setting the stage for access to the otherworldly beauty and pleasures on offer.
Henri Vever (1854-1942)
Ukiyo-e Meisaku 300 Senten ('Three Hundred Selected Masterpieces' [from the Vever Collection, Paris]), Tokyo, Japan, 1975 (Special Loan), no. 19
Jack Hillier, Japanese Prints and Drawings from the Vever Collection, Volume Two, 1976, pp. 538-539, no. 557
Vignier & Inada, Estampes Japonaises: Yeishi, Choki, Hokusai, 1913, p. 32, no. 38 (description of this design, Musée des Arts Decoratifs, now Musée Guimet); and no. 39, pl. XI (ho-o triptych, M. Mutiaux)
Yoshida Teruji, Ukiyo-e Jiten, 1965, vol. I, pp. 179-180
Klaus J. Brandt, Hosoda Eishi 1756-1829, 1977, pl. 66, A92
Ukiyo-e Shuka, vol. 7, 1979, pp. 192-193, nos. 261-263 (The New York Public Library)
Eiko Kondo, Masterpieces of Ukiyo-e Prints from the Schindler Collection, 1985, p. 74f, pl. 73 (ho-o triptych)
Shugo Asano and Timothy Clark, The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, 1995, text volume, pp. 276-277, no. 487 (Utamaro illustration)
Masterpieces of the Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2006, p. 93, no. 92
Andreas Marks, Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2019, pp. 238-241, no. 73, fold-out and back cover (Ota Memorial Museum of Art)
Art Institute of Chicago, ex Clarence Buckingham Collection, accession no. 1925.2343 (ho-o triptych); and accession no. 1939.2140 (peacock variant palette)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ex Howard Mansfield Collection, accession nos. JP2425a-c (ho-o triptych), and ex Frederick E. Church Collection, accession no. JP1571 (peacock variant palette)
New York Public Library, ex Charles Stewart Smith Collection, accession no. 113564.3 (peacock variant palette)
Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tokyo
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