Kitagawa Tsukimaro, Geisha, a pair of hanging scroll paintings

Japan
Edo period, about AD 1818-30

Although they are slightly different in size, these two paintings seem to form a pair of scenes showing geisha in and out of doors. Their poses, too, appear to be complementary, with the right-hand pair leaning in towards each other, while the left-hand pair face out to the viewer. The colouring of the kimonos is similar; the dull greens and purples set off the elaborate under-garments and accessories.

In the right-hand indoor scene, the standing figure carries a richly worked silver kettle on a lacquer stand. Her companion has an over-sized metal tobacco pipe and a small brocade purse. The startling blue of the obi (sash) of one is picked up by the more sombre pattern of the other. Their ornamental hair-pins are particularly striking.

On the left, one geisha is seated on a garden bench, her foot drawn up under her leaving the high geta (clog) on the ground. She carries a fan painted with a blossoming plum picked out in gold. The red background takes the eye through the painting, from the neck opening of one woman to the lower under-robe of the other.

Tsukimaro (worked about 1794-1836) started his career as a woodblock print artist in the school of Utamaro, but later took to painting beautiful women in the style of the Maruyama-Shijō school of painting of Kyoto. For these later paintings he used the signature ‘Kansetsu', as here.

Signature: Kansetsu sha ('painted by Kansetsu')
Seals: Kansetsu no in, Shisen-uji

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More information

Bibliography

L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

T. Clark, Ukiyo-e paintings in the Briti (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)

Dimensions

Height: 1242.000 mm
Width: 541.000 mm
Height: 1242.000 mm
Width: 541.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 2632 (1881.12-10.02311);Asia JA JP 2633 (1881.12-10.02312)

JCF1851;JCF1852

William Anderson Collection

Location

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