Eight Trysts of Geisha and Eight Views on Fans: Night Rain at Ryogoku Bridge
(Ogi hakkei: Ryogoku-bashi yau)
signed Keisai Eisen ga, with censor's seal kiwame and publisher's seal Ue, Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiya Uhei of Fukusendo), ca. 1820s
oban tate-e 15 by 10 3/8 in., 38.1 by 26.2 cm
The theme of 'eight views' was adapted from a classical Chinese landscape grouping of Eight Views of the Hsiao and the Hsiang. The Japanese landscape version, Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Lake Biwa [Omi]), is a collection of eight famous views from the scenic area around Lake Biwa, which were frequently likened to beauties or employed in mitate-e (parody prints). While context of the landscape views were set with poetic references: Evening Snow, Evening Bell, Autumn Moon, Returning Sails, Wild Geese Descending, and the subject of this print, Night Rain, the specific locations were ever-changing as suited the needs of the artist (or poet). In this series, the classic theme is alluded to as Eight Views of the Fan, but the landscape elements are all locations around Edo. In the case of this design, the Night Rain view is located at the Ryogoku Bridge- an important conduit across the Sumida River which also leant its name to the bustling neighborhood of Ryogoku on the eastern shore of the river. The classic theme is played on further by replacing the Omi Hakkei title with the similar sounding series title of Ogi Hakkei (Eight Views of the Fan), but the single kanji used for 'Ogi' (fan) was replaced with two kanji which together could be read as a 'tryst' (or date) with a 'singing girl' (ie. geisha or prostitute), thus adding a layer of wordplay for the urban sophisticates of Edo.
Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, cat. nos. 157-158 (other prints from the series)
William Sturgis Bigelow Collection, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 11.17891
(inv. no. 10-5232)
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