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Mihata Jōryū 三畠上龍
(active 2nd quarter 19th century)

“Courtesan” 美人圖

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
102.5 x 37.3 cm. (40 3/8 x 14 5/8 in.)


Artist’s seals:
Jōryū (“uniting virtue”); Shinshin (“truest of the true”)

Recent provenance:
Japan 日本来源

Ornamental hairpins and extraordinary combs frame and emphasize the lovely facial features of the woman, whose eyes are especially compelling, a match for her green-shaded lips. The body is arranged in a graceful S-curve that carries the eye easily to where the kimono grown flares like a flowering blossom, the slight opening sufficient to provide a tantalizing glimpse of her bare foot. The artist’s great technical expertise is very evident in the painting of the gold dragon that decorates her red obi sash and the blossoming cherry tree of her gown, which manifests the strong and thick outlines characteristic of the Shijō style.

Born in Kyoto, Mihata Jōryū first studied painting with the Shijō school master Okamoto Toyohiko (1773-1845) and then became a specialist in genre subjects as well as bijinga, paintings of beautiful women. According to the Meika Shoga Dan, Jōryū in Kyōtō and Kunisada (1786-1864) in Edo were skillful in portraying faces quite different from those of Chōshun and Moronobu.[1] Jōryū moved later to Osaka where his disciple Yoshihara Shinryū (1804-1856) continued Jōryū’s style of bijinga, which combined elements drawn from the Shijō style with those of Kansai Ukiyo-e to striking effect, as here.[2]


1. Genshoku Ukiyo-e Dai-hyakka Jiten, vol. 2: Ukiyoeshi (Tokyo: Daishūkan Shoten, 1982), pl. 60.

2. Ibid., p. 121.

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