Japan art and bijin-ga (beautiful ladies) of the Edo Period

Japan art and bijin-ga (beautiful ladies) of the Edo Period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Bijin-ga art in Japan refers to various forms of “a beautiful person.” However, in the Edo Period, the terminology mainly applies to “beautiful ladies.” Therefore, the bijin-ga art of Eishōsai Chōki is firmly based on depicting beautiful ladies in lovely attire.

It is known that Chōki was extremely active in the late part of the eighteenth century until 1808. However, little is known about Chōki to a great degree. Hence, speculation and an incomplete jigsaw remain.

Chōki and the highly esteemed Utamaro (1753-1806) were pupils of Toriyama Sekien (1712-1788). The artists Utamaro and Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) can be felt greatly in the work of Chōki. In saying this, Chōki also produced a lovely atmospheric angle to many of his art pieces concerning the backdrop.

Irrespective of bijin-ga implying “beautiful ladies” or “inner beauty of ladies” – or other terminologies – this art form became very popular during the Edo Period.

Notable artists who did sublime bijin-ga include Toyohara Chikanobu, Suzuki Harunobu, Torii Kiyonaga, Ito Shinsui, Uemura Shoen, Utamaro, and a few other selected artists. However, Chōki also created adorable bijin-ga art. Therefore, he belongs among the creme de la creme of the above artists mentioned.

Overall, Chōki created adorable art that conjures up images of a gentler side of the Edo Period. Hence, even if this was an illusion for the majority of women during the Edo Period, just like all societies throughout the world during this period of history, you can admire the beauty in such simplicity.


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