courtesan wearing uchikake with dragon design
signed Keisai Eisen ga, with censor's seal Kiwame, and publisher's seal Ue, Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiya Uhei of Fukusendo), ca. 1830s
kakemono-e (vertical oban diptych) 29 by 9 5/8 in., 73.7 by 24.3 cm
Eisen created at least three other variations of the subject of a courtesan dressed in a distinctive black dragon uchikake (two vertical diptychs and an oban sheet). For comparison with the other Eisen designs and with prints of the same subject by Katsukawa Shunsen (1762- ca. 1830), Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) and Utagawa Kunihisa II (1832-1891), see Chiba City Museum of Art, Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, pp. 222-228. The proliferation of this subject suggests a fashion for hand-painted uchikake decorated in sumi ink by Kano school artists (which would have been a very expensive indulgence), a decadent display which was likely initiated and embraced by high-ranking courtesans.
This print is very similar to another vertical diptych by Eisen which was reproduced on the cover of Paris Illustre le Japon in 1886, and then famously copied in oil twice by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) the following year- in the background of the painting Portrait of Pere Tanguy, and in the brightly-colored larger-scale interpretation The Courtesan.
Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 222-228
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Scholten Japanese Art
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