• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2266

    Japanese and Korean Art

    17 March 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 38

    Isoda Koryusai (b. 1735)

    Courtesan promenading with attendants beneath cherry blossoms, c. 1770s

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Isoda Koryusai (b. 1735)
    Courtesan promenading with attendants beneath cherry blossoms, c. 1770s
    Signed Hokkyo Koryusai ga, sealed Masakatsu no in
    Hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on silk
    39 1/8 x 2 5/8in. (99.2 x 32.1cm.)
    Box signed by Nihonga painter, Ito Shinsui


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    Wearing sumptuous garments, a high-ranking courtesan and her two child attendants parade under a blossoming cherry tree. The location is clearly identified by the bamboo fence enclosing the tree and the stand of yellow kerria (yamabuki). In March of every year, the managers of the teahouses and brothels in the Yoshiwara moved cherry trees into the Nakanocho, or main boulevard. They remained on view as long as they were in bloom, and courtesans were allowed to parade beneath the blossoms. The Yoshiwara pleasure quarter was a magnet for conspicuous consumption, and the women selected their most dazzling robes for their public appearances.

    This courtesan shows off a complex coiffure and has a decorative pattern on her robe known as takara-tsukushi (array of lucky objects) including a lucky mallet and other popular symbols of wealth and prosperity. Attached to the back of her garment is fringed cloth that might represent a cloak of invisibility. She promenades on high, black-lacquered clogs called geta, swinging her foot to execute the fabled step that resembled the Chinese character "eight" (the hachimonji style of walking). The two attendants wear red tie-dyed robes that match the courtesan's underrobe.

    Provenance

    Ito Shinsui (1898-1972), Tokyo


    Exhibited

    Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku, "Orinpikku Tokyo taikai kinen - Nikuhitsu ukiyoe meisaku ten/The exhibition of ukiyoe hand-paintings in commemoration of the Tokyo Olympics," 1964.10.8--18

    Kushigata Shunsen Museum, Kushigatacho, Yamanashi, "Ukiyoe no hana - Kenrantaru nikuhitsu ukiyoe no sekai: Nikuhitsu ukiyoe meisakuten" (The flowers of ukiyo-e: The gorgeous world of ukiyo-e painting), 1995.4.29--6.25

    Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, "Images du Monde Flottant: Peintures et estampes japonaises XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles" (Images of the floating world: Japanese paintings and prints of the 17th-18th centuries), 2004.9.27--2005.1.3

    Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Berlin-Dahlem, "Schönheit und Eros: Bilder der Fliessenden Welt von Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro und anderen aus der Sammlung Sumisho, Tokyo," 2008.10.17--2009.1.4

    PUBLISHED:
    Yoshida Teruji, ed., Nishikie shoki jidai I (Early period of color prints I), vol. 4 of Ukiyoe taisei (Tokyo: Taihokaku shobo, 1930), p. 216.

    Mainichi shinbunsha, ed., Orinpikku Tokyo taikai kinen - Nikuhitsu ukiyoe meisaku ten/The exhibition of ukiyoe hand-paintings in commemoration of the Tokyo Olympics (Tokyo: Mainichi shinbunsha, 1964), pl. 90.

    Sadamura Tadashi, ed., Ukiyoe no hana - kenrantaru nikuhitsu ukiyoe no sekai: Nikuhitsu ukiyoe meisakuten (The flowers of ukiyo-e: The gorgeous world of ukiyo-e paintings) (Tokyo: Bun'yusha, 1995), pl. 29.

    Helène Bayou et al., eds., Images du Monde Flottant: Peintures et estampes japonaises XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles (Images of the floating world: Japanese paintings and prints of the 17th-18th centuries) (Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux Paris, 2004), pl. 121.