Katsukawa Shunsen – Beauty in snow, holding un umbrella


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Additional information


Shunsen, Katsukawa


(B) Fine Condition










Oban (10"x15"), Diptych


Snow, Women / Geisha

On a snowy evening, a geisha attempts to shield herself with an umbrella while carefully navigating a path.

Katsukawa Shunsen was a painter who was a pupil of Shunei. His artist name was 秋琳 at first and shifted to 春扇 after becoming a student of Shunei, and 春好Ⅱ from 1820 onward. Therefore, this work is considered to have been produced before 1820, thought to be around 1804.

Unlike standard oban-sized prints which could be viewed individually and perhaps collected in an album, vertical diptychs (or kakemono-e, literally “hanging picture”) were designed to be hung on a wall or within a tokonoma (alcove reserved for displaying art), thereby mimicking the scale and impact of painted hanging scroll but available at a much more accessible price for the average consumer. Often already mounted as hanging scrolls by the publishers, kakemono-e such as this diptych by Shunsen is the visual equivalent of a pin-up of a beautiful woman and a fashion poster at the same time. However, because they were displayed and rarely preserved in albums, kakemono-e were vulnerable to deterioration and extant impressions with any preservation of color are rare.

The Woodblock Print

This double-oban from 1804 is in fine condition; small holes have been patched and are only noticeable from the verso. The greens have faded, but the print still retains enough color to be enchanting.

Unable to find any institutional holdings; only able to find one other record of a retail listing.

About the Artist

Katsukawa Shunsen (勝川 春扇, 1762-1830), an influential Japanese ukiyo-e artist, emerged during the Edo period, leaving an indelible mark on the world of woodblock prints. Born in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) in 1762, Shunsen entered the artistic realm under the tutelage of Katsukawa Shunshō, a prominent ukiyo-e master renowned for his actor prints. Shunshō’s teachings significantly shaped Shunsen’s early artistic development, instilling in him a foundation in traditional ukiyo-e techniques.

Shunsen’s artistic journey was also influenced by other contemporaries, such as Kitao Shigemasa and Toshusai Sharaku. The dynamic, expressive style of Sharaku, particularly in his kabuki actor portraits, left an enduring impact on Shunsen, influencing his later works. Shunsen’s dedication to portraying actors and scenes from kabuki theater became a hallmark of his oeuvre.

Notable for his distinctive bijin-ga (images of beautiful women) and yakusha-e (actor prints), Shunsen’s style featured bold lines, vibrant colors, and meticulous attention to detail. His depictions of kabuki actors were characterized by a keen understanding of the dramatic essence of each character, capturing their emotional intensity on stage. Shunsen’s innovative approach to composition and use of color set him apart, earning him recognition as a master of the ukiyo-e genre.