Twelve Views of Modern Beauties: Ryogoku Bridge, Woman of Light-Hearted Appearance
(Imayo Bijin Junikei: Ryogoku-bashi, Ki ga Karuso)
a bust portrait of a geisha tuning a shamisen, her blue kosode is decorated with white flying bats, her grey under-robe with a bamboo pattern, the cartouche in the form of an emakimono illustrating a view of the Ryogoku Bridge, signed Keisai Eisen ga, with artist's red circular seal Sen on the collar, and with publisher's seal Izumi-ichi (Izumiya Ichibei), censor's kiwame seal, ca. 1822-23
oban tate-e 38.5 by 26 cm
The shamisen was an instrument closely associated with the geisha, professional entertainers, who worked along with (but not in the same role) as courtesans. It is not clear if this beauty is a geisha or courtesan, as her clothing and hair ornaments are somewhat more elaborate than was considered acceptable for a geisha, whose appearance was expected to be more reserved (and less tempting) than that of a courtesan. The green color on her lower lip was achieved by multiple layers of beni (safflower dye) which could change from red to iridescent green. The cartouche in the shape of a handscroll shows a view of the Ryogoku Bridge in the commercial heart of the bustling metropolis of Edo.
Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, p. 129, pl. 143
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site last updated
April 13, 2021
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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