Eisen

Keisai Eisen

1790-1848

Three Dry-Goods Stores of the Eastern Capital: Matsuzaka-ya
(Toto gofukuya sanpukutsui: Matsuzaka-ya)

signed Keisai Eisen ga with artist's seal Sen, censor's seal Kiwame (approved), with publisher's seal Waka (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), ca. 1821

oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.7 by 25.4 cm

As indicated by the series title in the upper left corner, Three Dry-Goods Stores of the Eastern Capital (Toto gofukuya sanpukutsui), this print is from a group of featuring three prominent kimono dealers of Edo, including Ebisu-ya, Hotei-ya and in this case, Matsuzaka-ya, its blue fabric noren-shaped banner in the upper right corner with the shop logo, daki wakamatsu (pine sprigs) encircling the mon (crest), maru ni tate futatsu hiki (circle with two vertical lines).

The fashionable young beauty stands erect with a broad bangasa (complimentary rental or loan umbrella) tipped jauntily over her shoulder and emblazoned with the Matsuzaka-ya name, logo and bango (item number, 13-?-?). The shape of her arm and outline of her underrobes are barely visible through the slightly diaphanous fabric of her lightweight katabira (summer kimono). She carries a folded purse, accessorized with a flower-shaped netsuke, tucked securely beneath the wide folds of her white and blue checked obi which contrasts nicely against the subtle purplish-blue (acheived by combining indigo and safflower) and white yagasuri (arrow fletching) pattern of her ikat kasuri (smudging color) kimono. She holds her hem off the ground, revealing a glimpse of her ankles, perhaps to avoid puddles remaining from a passing shower, and a section of hair has escaped her neat coiffure and curls at her temple, succumbing the summer heat and humidity.

To the right, a tanka poem (with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable format) extolls the virtues of the Matsuzaka-ya, which was located in Shinbashi.

Hanjo wa
Chiyo mo kawaranu
Matsuzakaya
Senshoku iro mo
Atashi Shinkyo

Flourishing,
unchanging for eons
Matsuzakaya
weaves textile colors
I am Shinkyo

(possibly Kokontei Shinkyo, from a family of Rakugo entertainers)

Eisen frequently worked in collaboration with vendors marketing make-up, textiles and clothing. During a period of diminished productivity, the publisher, who likely retained the original blocks, adapted the same three figures for a triptych titled Modern Beauties: View of Takanawa, which promoted three Edo restaurants. The assembled composition was revised by updating their clothing and adding an aizuri-e (all blue print) landscape in the background, a savvy improvement in response to the sudden popularity the Prussian blue (beru) dye which became widely available in circa 1830 and sparked a trend for prints and clothing utilizing the blue pigment.

Reference:
Chiba City Museum of Art, Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, 2012, p. 218, no. 286 (later triptych with aizuri-e background); and p. 293; Eisen Nishiki-e Index, no. 352-3

(inv. no. 10-5356)

price: $4,500


Keisai Eisen

detail

kikumon

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