Matsuno Chikanobu, Standing courtesan, a hanging scroll painting

Edo period, about AD 1704-16

In the medieval period in Japan (twelfth-sixteenth centuries AD) Buddhist artists generally used the tall hanging scroll format for the portrayal of deities, patriarchs and Chinese sages. In the Edo period, however, it gradually came to be used for secular figures. During the Kambun era (AD 1661-73) there was a vogue for full-length hanging scroll portraits of courtesans. They were usually placed against a plain background, and have come to be called 'Kambun beauties'. The fashion continued into the eighteenth century.

Matsuno Chikanobu (worked in the early eighteenth century) was influenced by the Kaigetsudō school, which specialized in such paintings of beauties. Chikanobu's portraits are immediately recognizable through certain distinctive features, such as the hair pulled straight back from the face, the tiny mouth turned up in a smile giving a sweet expression, and the impression of movement in the lines of the kimono. Here the outer kimono has a design of autumn chrysanthemums, but one sleeve has been thrown off from the shoulder to reveal the contrasting red under-kimono with its snowy winter bamboos.

The signature reads 'Hakushōken Matsuno Chikanobu kore [o] zu [su]' ('pictured by Hakushōken Matsuno Chikanobu'). the seal reads 'Sen(?)'.

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More information


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)


Height: 750.000 mm
Width: 300.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 1405 (1913.5-1.0283)


Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.


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