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Eizan (1787 - 1867)

Camellia Sasanqua: Bijin Washing

Series: New Textile Designs
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1820
Size (H x W): 15 x 10 (inches)
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei
Seals: Kiwame
Signature: Eizan hitsu
Condition: Good color, very good impression, surface soiling and wear.

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In this sensual print, a woman slips her arm out of her clothing as she washes in front of a shallow basin of water. Looking over her shoulder, she turns away as if alarmed by something outside of our view.

About the artist

A native of Edo, Eizan Kikukawa was born as Toshinobu Omiya in 1787. He began his artistic career studying with his father Eiji Kikukawa, a Kano painter and fan maker, before pursuing printmaking under Hokkei, a pupil of Hokusai. From the start of the 19th century to his retirement, Eizan was leading artist of Japanese bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) and shunga (erotic prints) woodblock prints. After 1830, he worked almost exclusively as a painter until his death in 1867.

Eizan admired and followed in the footsteps of Utamaro, despite the fact that he never trained with him. Working primarily in the genre of bijin-ga, Eizan captures beautiful women with sensibility and lyricism, imbuing them with an elegance and graceful classicality. Though the increased demand for ukiyo-e during the early 19th century caused some artists to rush their designs, Eizan Kikukawa resisted this pressure, maintaining impeccable design skills throughout his career.