Beauties of the Seasons—Summer

Maker(s)
Artist: Isoda Koryūsai 磯田湖竜斎 (1735-1790)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1772-1780
School
Ukiyo-e
Medium
Color and gold on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 106.3 × 48.3 cm (41 7/8 × 19 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1902.38
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, summer, ukiyo-e, woman
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Comparatively little is known about Koryusai. Various sources suggest that he was once a samurai in the service of the Tsuchiya domain (present-day Hitachi, north of Tokyo), or that his father held such a post. As an artist and designer, Koryusai enjoyed the tutelage of the very popular Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) and for a time used the studio name of Haruhiro, apparently given to him by Harunobu. During the decade of the 1770s, Koryursai  produced highly regarded "beauty" prints as well as bird-and-flower prints, which often favored a long, narrow format.

In these paintings, perhaps once part of a larger four-painting ensemble, Koryusai reveals himself to be a master of atmospheric evocation. His mature style, notable in the skillful depiction of worldly and sometimes churlish women, departs from the innocent beauties of the Harunobu style. The representation of the moods of the two women seen here (and the accompanying image, F1902.39) is elaborated by the surrounding context of nature. In this summer scene, a frowning courtesan opens her umbrella to guard against a sudden downpour. Her distinctive hair style, with exaggerated wings, was the rage in the An'ei era (1772-80). The silhouette of the hair style was said to suggest either an open umbrella or a lantern top. This clue reasonably indicates when the painting was produced.

Published References
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 55, pp. 142-145.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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