Keisai Eisen


Eight Favorite Things in the Modern World: Theater
(Tosei kobutsu hakkei: Shibai)

a beauty holding a battledore and shuttlecock, at the upper left is a folded kabuki program, the multi-colored cover decorated with a crest, beneath it is a narrow white folded flyer titled Shin-yakusha-zuke ('New Actors'); signed Keisai Eisen ga with artist's seal Sen, published by Izumiya Ichibei of Kansendo, ca. 1823

oban tate-e 15 3/8 by 10 1/2 in., 39.1 by 26.7 cm

The hairstyle and colorful attire of this beauty identify her as adolescent, and her well-appointed ensemble suggests she is either the daughter of a family with means, or a shinzo (teenage apprentice courtesan). She wears iridescent green sasabeni ('bamboo rouge' derived from safflower), a trendy but expensive embellishment for a young lady. Her kimono is decorated with a light blue and lavender pattern of kanzemizu (swirling water), the collar dark green with an asupicioius motif white kame (turtles, symbolizing longevity). Her inner robe is beni-dyed with flowers and zigzaging matsukawa-bishi (lit. 'pine bark diamond'). The young beauty coyly holds a shuttlecock near her chin and angles a battledore paddle to rest on her shoulder for use in a game (similar to badminton) that was traditionally played at the New Year.

The kabuki materials at the upper left corner relate to theater advertisements which would have been released a few months earlier. The crest decorating the folded program is probably that of the Nakamura Theater, one of the major theaters in Edo. It rests on a folded playbill which would have been published by the theater shortly before the Kaomise, the annual eleventh-month production featuring the actors, playwrights and musicians of the company engaged for the upcoming season.

Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 68-69 (series)

(inv. no. 10-0285)

price: $7,500

Keisai Eisen



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site last updated
October 3, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475