Scholten Japanese Art
Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)
Twelve Views of Modern Beauties: Ryogoku Bridge, Woman of Light-hearted Appearance
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 15 1/8 by 10 1/4 in. (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.