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KEISAI EISEN
(1790 - 1848)
FUJIEDA STATION: THE COURTESAN KICHO OF THE OWARIYA, c. 1821-23

Colour woodblock print, c. 1821-1823, from the series in vertical oban format A Tôkaidô Board Game of Courtesans: Fifty-three Pairings in the Yoshiwara. Published by Tsutaya Kichizo. Signed Keisai Eisen ga. Censor’s seal kiwame. Fine impression and colour, minor faults, pasted on a light cardboard; 385 x 255 mm.
Another fine impression of this print is at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (accession number 11.25543).

Eisen was son of a samurai, Ikeda Masahei Shigeharu, a talented calligrapher. After his parents died he was forced to become a ronin to support his younger sisters. At one time a Kabuki playwright using the name Chiyoda Saishi, and about this time lodged with the family of Kikukawa Eizan and studied painting with Eizan's father, Eiji. In later years a prolific author of popular literature and, in 1833, he compiled a manuscript which was a reworking of the biographies of Ukiyo-e artists. He studied also with the minor Kano painter Hakkeisai and with Kikukawa Eizan. From the late Bunka era (1804-18) onwards he designed many illustrations for the various genres of popular literature as well as surimono and produced a large output of single-sheet prints of women, including some fine bust portraits. He was also author off many shunga and contributed twenty-four designs in a Kano-influenced style to the landscape series Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaido (late 1830s) designed with Hiroshige.