Koikawa Harumasa, ‘Calligraphy’, ca. 1810, Scholten Japanese Art

signed Banki hitsu, with publisher's seal, Ibiko, ca. 1810

chuban tate-e 9 1/2 by 7 1/4 in., 24.1 by 18.3 cm

A courtesan sits beside a writing table, she wears multiple layers of robes which pool onto the floor around her and several hairpins in her hair. She is turned slightly away while holding a brush in her hand which she rests against her cheek in a reflective gesture. On the table are all of her implements: an inkstone and ink stick, a jar full of brushes, a stack of string-bound books, and on the floor is a small lacquer tray with a tiny water dropper in the shape of a kettle. At the center of the table a blank sheet of a narrow poem card presents the challenge and awaits her artistry.

Koikawa Harumasa (also known as Banki) was a print designer, poet, and author. He studied with Koikawa Harumachi I (1744-89), and Koikawa Harumachi II (active c. early 1800s) who apparently took the name Kitagawa Utamaro II, possibly after marrying Utamaro's widow in 1806. Harumasa produced bijinga in the style of Utamaro and his followers.

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Ibiko

Shugo Asano & Timothy Clark, The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, 1995, p. 67 (on Utamaro II)
Amy Reigle Newland, The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, 2005, Vol. II, p. 461
Edmond de Goncourt (after), Utamaro, 2008, p. 21 (on Utamaro II)
Andreas Marks, Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, 2011, p. 387, seal no. 15-009
Mead Art Museum at Amherst College (museums.fivecolleges.edu), from the William Green Collection, accession no. AC2005.665

About Koikawa Harumasa