Eizan Kikugawa, Child Taking a Nap, Summer Season
Artist: Eizan Kikugawa (1787-1867)
Title: June, Taking a Nap (水無月 - 風流子宝十二月)
Series: Fashionable Twelve Months of Precious Children
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi
Date: Late 18th/ Early 19th century
Dimensions: 24.6 x 37.8 cm
Original Japanese woodblock print.
An installment from Eizan's series of vignettes that show the affectionate side of the fashionable ladies from the demimonde he often depicted. The women share the elongated faces, sensuousness of line and idealisation of female beauty in all its forms found in Kitagawa Utamaro's works, which had a great influence on Eizan. Through the series Eizan explores the maternal beauty inherent in these women.
A child has fallen asleep after a bout of play: beside him is a miniature omikoshi, a portable shrine transported to different spiritual locations during festivals. Eizan captures the natural elegance of the two women with their loosely draped kimonos, each embossed according to their patterns, and looks of endearment. The month of June is when the summer humidity and heat are met with the rainy season in Japan, inducing the feeling of languor and calm portrayed in the scene.
|Print Format||Oban (Vertical)|
|Artist Name||Eizan Kikugawa|
|Title||June, Taking a Nap|
|Subject||Beauty & Female|
|Dimensions||24.6 x 37.8 cm|
|Condition Report||Centrefold. Minor creases.|
Eizan Kikugawa is often referred to as one of the great masters of the beauty print genre, but this has not always been the case. He is believed to have started quite young, mostly creating beauty prints in Utamaro’s style in the beginning. Later in life, Eizan discovered his own style, while still showing the influence of Utamaro in the sensitivity, expressive sensuality and erotic charm of his work. Apparently, Eizan produced his first proper work in his teen years. It went on to be published, which is an unusual accomplishment. It is also believed that he managed to become an accomplished artist by the age of 21. A particular artistic innovation, the scroll format, which is a vertical oban diptych that was popular in the late 1830s, is thought to have been invented by this artist. The craft of woodblock printing lay in Eizan’s family. He was born as a son of Eiji Kikugawa who was a Kano-style painter. Studying with his father, and with Suzuki Nanrei later on, Eizan was also influenced by the works of Hokkei. The latter was an old friend of Eizan and the student of another master of ukiyo-e, Hokusai. Eizan himself had a few students, none of whom achieved the same heights of fame as their teacher, with the exception of Eisen. This is where the relationship of teacher and student became a little complicated: Eisen himself had a number of students collectively called Kikugawa school, but Eizan is regarded to be the school’s founder. The artist remained unmarried and childless and is believed to have been looked after by one of his students during his later years.