We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Read about our COVID-safe plans and what you need to know before visiting.

Title

Standing beauty

18th century

Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Bijin
    Alternative title
    Tachi bijin
    Place where the work was made
    Japan
    Period
    Shôtoku era 1711-1715 Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    Date
    18th century
    Media categories
    Scroll , Painting
    Materials used
    hanging scroll: ink and colour on silk
    Dimensions
    107.5 x 46.0 cm image; 203.5 x 58.0 x 62.0 cm scroll
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., Japanese [inscribed in red ink] "Kaigetsudo Anchi [artist's seal]". Not dated.

    Credit
    Bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    595.1993
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Kaigetsudō Anchi

    Works in the collection

    1

    Share
  • About

    The art of the floating world ('ukiyo-e') had two main subjects: the courtesans of the pleasure quarters and Kabuki actors. The portrayal of courtesans was a special category of painting termed 'bijin-ga', literally "paintings of beautiful women". In 'bijin-ga', an individual's personality was conveyed not through facial expression, but by pose, gesture, and the choice of colour and pattern for the kimono. The 'bijin' of these paintings were more than "pin-ups", they were symbols of a feminine ideal that transcended mere physical beauty. A high-ranking courtesan was expected to display a great aesthetic sensitivity and was esteemed not only for her sensuality, gracefulness and the unsurpassed feelings for colours and design in her clothing, but also for her skills at poetry, song, music and dance. The statuesque 'bijin' of the Kaigetsudô school is an 'ukiyo-e' classic: a single, standing figure against a blank ground, her figure defined by strong, sweeping outlines. This beauty, like all 'bijin-ga' is a fashion plate: her hairstyle dates her to the Kyôhô period (1716 - 36) and the viewer can be sure that her kimono with its refreshing pattern of reeds and shells, is of the latest fashion textile design. The most important assets of the courtesans were their hair and their kimono. They were forbidden to wear socks, and had to go barefoot even in the coldest winter. The inscription reads: 'Japanese-for-fun-only painting by Anchi, the last leaf of Kaigetsudô.'

    AGNSW Collections, 1994, p. 225.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    Japan

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 8 publications