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The Courtesan Hanaogi Of The Ogiya Brothel (Essay Sample)


final draft, footnotes and citation correction, grammar check/ add formal analysis


ARTH 103
Professor's Name
Formal Analysis
Ichirakutei Eisui's THE COURTESAN HANAOGI OF THE OGIYA BROTHEL (OGIYA NOUCHI HANAOGI), Edo period (the 1790s), Polychrome woodblock print, ink and color on paper.
The Courtesan Hanaogi of the Ogiya Brothel (Ogiya Nouchi Hanaogi), ink and color on paper printed by woodblock, made by Ichirakutei Eisui; a Japanese artist during the Edo period. The piece of art is of 37.1cm x 25.2 cm in size with the female character appearing in a well-decorated kimono and headdresses. The artistic piece's name is placed in the bottom right corner together with author's signature and identity. Also, the negative space between her hair and kimono is visible at the left side.[Patricia Graham, "Lifestyles of Scholar-Painters in Edo Japan" (The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 77, 1990), 262-83. ]
 This print only includes this woman's upper part of the body which illustrates only a 3/4 side face to viewers. The artist is trying to represent the shyness of the beautiful woman. In the portrait, the lady holds a fan on her right hand and a stick (probably a part of the hairdressing), both hands are facing inside. Also, the left hand seems to touch a string from her hat. Her body is kind of huddled up, and the chin lowered. She does not have much skin exposed to the viewer, only a slight bit of wrists and neck. The clothing she is wearing has different-colored layers and is well made with sakura-shaped patterns. Hair dressings look like giant hairpins stay in the same color and material, might be made of bamboo or wood.  In the Ukiyo-e era, woodblock printing was renowned for producing quantity, stunning and beautiful artworks at a very low cost
This piece belongs to an iconic and common style at that time (the 1790s): pictures of the floating world (Ukiyo-e) in which artists focused on urban cultures such as people's daily life and folklore. Main characters in paintings from Edo period were mostly geishas (women artists performing music and dance) or in general: beauties. How does one define this woman's figure as a geisha? This lady in the work has heavy black chignon and hair dress with one flower at the back. She has fair skin and small but dark features, especially eyes and eyebrows. She is clothing in colorful traditional Japanese Kimono with multi-layers of the collar. There's a fan in her right hand and a wooden stick in her left hand. Her posture shows her tender shyness as a geisha.[Richard Lane, "An Ukiyo-E Pilgrim's Progress” (Impressions, no. 7, 1982).] [Ibid 2.]
To get in more details of the figure, her hair is well painted: thin hairs are visible on her forehead and bun. However, the headdress is mostly in single colors like light ivory and pink. The face is expressed in a simple way: eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips and even ears were not painted with shadows, instead, they are just in black outlines. Her kimono is simple as well, it is in light yellow, pinkish red, and a slight bit of dark green. Unlike typical Japanese traditional clothes, there are only very light and basic decorations on this kimono. Before the Edo period in Japan, kimono only belonged to wealthy people.[“Women, Education, and Literacy" In the Female as Subject: Reading and Writing in Early Modern Japan, edited by Kornicki et al. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 7-38.] [Richard Kruml, "The Body Beautiful: The Illusory World of Ukiyo-E" (Impressions, no. 16, 1991).]
How this lady has been painted can be explained by the geisha culture in Japan that was prominent during Edo period. Geishas in Japan are more likely to be reco

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