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Three Beauties

Three Beauties

0.5 KGS
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Product Description

Utamaro's 'Three Beauties' (1790s)

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 –1806) is one of the most highly regarded practitioners of the ukiyo-e genre of wood block prints, especially for his portraits of female beauties, or 'bijin-ga'. Although he designed prints of subjects other than women, he was decidedly fascinated with feminine beauty.

A genre that flourished during the Tokugawa Shogunate (1615-1868), ukiyo-e, or ‘pictures of the floating world’, is the term used for prints and paintings that portray everyday domestic life as well as the exotic world of the professional courtesan. Utamaro depicted hundreds of women of all social classes, from high-class courtesans to lowly labourers.  He has been nicknamed the ‘Artist of Women’. He captured the transitory pleasures of life, and appealed to a rising urban middle class with money to spend on such refined luxuries as the eroticised and idealised portraits.

Utamaro achieved national and international recognition during his lifetime. His work reached Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, where it was very popular, enjoying particular acclaim in France. He greatly influenced the European Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, particularly with his use of partial views and his emphasis on light and shade. The reference to the Japanese influence among these artists often refers to the work of Utamaro.  His work is known worldwide, and he is generally regarded as one of the half-dozen greatest ukiyo-e artists of all time.

Utamaro’s sensuous female beauties are considered to be the finest and most evocative bijinga in all of ukiyo-e. He succeeded in capturing subtle aspects of personality and transient moods of women of all classes, ages, and circumstances. This bijin-ga shows the courtesans Ohisa and Okita and the singer Toyohina in a pyramidal formation. This pyramidal formation was an innovation of Utamaro's, which was frequently copied by later ukiyo-e artists. Utamaro created a new ideal of feminine beauty.  Here he excludes background settings, concentrating instead on the faces and upper bodies of his subjects, highlighting their feminine beauty, grace and elegance.


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