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Eisen, Keisai

Keisai Eisen (渓斎 英泉, 1790–1848) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist who specialized in bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women). His best works, including his ōkubi-e (“large head pictures”), are considered to be masterpieces of the Bunsei Era (1818–1830).

Eisen was born in Edo into the Ikeda family and the son of a noted calligrapher. He apprenticed to Kanō Hakkeisai and took the name Keisai, later studying under Kikugawa Eizan. His early works reflected the influence of his mentor, but then he quickly developed his own style.

He produced a number of surimono (prints that were privately issued), shunga (erotic prints), and landscapes, including The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō, which he started and which was completed by Hiroshige. Eisen is most renowned for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) which portrayed the subjects as more worldly than those depicted by earlier artists, replacing their grace and elegance with a less studied sensuality.

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