Beauty, Two Courtesans, Hashira-e

H3 - 160219

Artist: Attributed to Shigamasa (1739 - 1820)
Title: Two Courtesans Strolling Side by Side
Date: 18th century
Size: 11.8 x 72 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

The print shows two courtesans strolling side by side underneath an umbrella. One of them wears a simple, flower-patterned kimono with a black obi, while the other wears a kimono with a design echoing the chapter numbers from 'The Tale of Genji', a classic work of Japanese literature written by the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in early 11th century.

Hashira-e, or pillar prints, is a narrow print format originally intended for decoration of the supporting pillars in traditional Japanese houses. The prints would have been pasted to the pillars and exposed to the elements of the Japanese household, making those that have survived very rare collectibles. While these more unusual sizes present their own challenges to the printing process, they also allow the artist to be experimental, imaginative, and innovative with the design’s compositional limitations.

Subjects range from the traditional portrayals of bijin (beautiful women), to legendary figures and heroes, to birds and flowers, in a limited space brimming with artistic imagination and expression.

More Information
Print FormatHashira-e (Pillar Print)
SubjectBeauty & Female
Size11.8 x 72 cm
Condition ReportThin backing. Black outline slightly smudged. Horizontal creases throughout. Some soiling and discolouration.