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An image of (Portraits of six poetesses) by Watanabe NANGAKU

Watanabe NANGAKU

(Japan 1767 – 1813)

(Portraits of six poetesses)
Other titles:
Portraits of six women
Place of origin
Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
18th century-19th century
Media category
Materials used
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.
Purchased 1980
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

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.

Bibliography (4)

Jackie Menzies, The Floating World: Japan's world of transient pleasures, Sydney, 1994, not paginated. L13

Jackie Menzies, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Asian Art', pg. 85-103, Sydney, 1981, 85 (colour illus.), 98. 26

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 (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Floating World', Sydney, 2003, 253 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

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