Kaigetsudō Ando 懐月堂安度 (active early 18th century)
Standing Portrait of a Courtesan
(Yūjo tachisugata no zu 遊女立姿の図)

Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), c. 1705-1710
Hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on paper
Purchase, 1956

In the context of Western art, etching and other print techniques have traditionally been used to create high-quality reproductions of unique paintings. In Japanese art, however, woodblock prints have a long prestigious tradition of their own, and while subjects from ukiyo-e prints are sometimes depicted in painted format (nikuhitsu), scholars still recognize that such paintings have been inspired by and owe an undeniable debt to single-sheet prints and printed books.

The ukiyo-e scholar Inoue Kazuo (1914-1949) suggested that Kaigetsudō Ando, whose painted courtesan portraits are often considered masterpieces of early modern Japanese art, was in fact inspired by Torii Kiyonobu I (1664-1729), whose erotic artwork is on display nearby.

Along with other artists in the Kaigetsudō School, Kaigetsudō Ando is praised for having brought to the depiction of Japanese women an air of nobility and self-confidence. Such portraits accurately reflect the personalities of tayū, the top-ranking courtesans in the Yoshiwara before 1750.

Just as the portraits of Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), shown elsewhere in this exhibition, drew nationwide attention to courtesans of the Yoshiwara in the late 18th century, Kaigetsudō Ando’s contribution to the popularity of the tayū in the 17th and early 18th centuries cannot be overestimated.

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