Watanabe Nangaku was one of Okyo's ten most noted pupils. Okyo and his large studio fulfilled many commissions for 'bijin-ga' (paintings of beautiful women), professional-style paintings that were the Kyoto equivalent of Edo 'ukiyo-e' paintings and would have been commissioned by the Kyoto equivalent of the Edo townspeople. Nangaku was also significant for initiating Edo artists into the Kyoto-based Maruyama school while on a three-year sojourn there.
Compositions of six female portraits are uncommon, and while an Edo artist may have done it as a 'mitate' (parody) on the classical theme of the Six Immortal Poets ('Rokkasen'), Nangaku has treated his work as a group portrait. The women are believed to include two courtesans from Shimabara, Kyoto's entertainment district, the mother of painter Ike Taiga (lower left), and a peasant from the Ohara village, which provided Kyoto with brushwood for winter fires.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.253.
Portraits of six women
Place where the work was made
18th century-19th century
hanging scroll; ink, colours and gold on silk
44.3 x 66.0 cm image; 155.5 x 84.3 x 96.7 cm scroll
Signature & date
Signed c.l., in Japanese [inscribed in ink] "Nangaku [artist's seal]". Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
The Floating World: Japan's World of transient pleasures, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 May 1994–17 Jul 1994
Beauty and Desire in Edo period Japan, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes, 06 Jun 1998–09 Aug 1998
Referenced in 4 publications
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Floating World', Sydney, 2003, 253 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies, Orientations, 'Japanese Figure Painting: From the Public to the Personal', pg. 114-119, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 117 (colour illus.). fig.5
Jackie Menzies, The Floating World: Japan's world of transient pleasures, Sydney, 1994, not paginated. cat.no. L13
Jackie Menzies, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Asian Art', pg. 85-103, Sydney, 1981, 85 (colour illus.), 98. cat.no. 26