Keisai Eisen

Woman of Unyielding Appearance (1822-23)

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About the Art

In this overtly sexual print, a courtesan applies red lipstick and looks into a mirror. Her lips part, as does her robe, revealing her ample breast. 

The inset landscape likely identifies the teahouse where she resided, and would have been recognizable to locals. Such prints were often commissioned as advertisements for teahouses and the courtesans that entertained there.

Keisai Eisen (1790–1848) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist who specialised in bijin-ga (prints of beautiful women). His best works, including many ōkubi-e ("large head pictures"), are considered to be masterpieces of the Bunsei Era (1818–1830). 

His focus on exquisite, abundant detail of the various robes and fabrics worn by the beautiful women in his pictures earned him the nickname "the decadent".