Published between 1809 and 1813, this is part of an untitled series of five prints of the courtesans of Ogiya. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has Azuma of the Tamaya, Hanando of the Ogiya, and Hanazome of the Ogiya in its collection; this is one of the other two. A rare and early Edo-era woodblock by a master of bijin-ga.
The Woodblock Print
This exceedingly rare oban is in poor to fair condition, but in our opinion commensurate with its age (over 200 years old). As can be seen from the verso image, this print has been patched and taped and adhered lots of times over its lifespan, and yet when viewed from the front, the beauty of the courtesan is still apparent with her patterned robes and backdrop.
About the Artist
Kikukawa Eizan (1787-1867) first studied with his father, Eiji, a minor painter of the Kanō school, then with Suzuki Nanrei, an artist of the Shijō school. He is believed to have also studied with the ukiyo-e artist Totoya Hokkei. He produced numerous woodblock prints of beautiful women (bijin-ga) in the 1830s, but then abandoned printmaking in favor of painting. This artist should not be confused with Harukawa Eizan, an ukiyo-e print designer who was active in the 1790s. Eizan was the most prolific, longest-lived and ultimately the best of the late followers of Utamaro, who attempted to carry on the master’s bijin style after his death in 1806.