Seated courtesan, referring to Ebisu

Yashima Gakutei
1786 - 1868
Seated courtesan, referring to Ebisu
1827 - 182
Woodblock print, nishiki-e
Surimono shikishiban, 210 x 186 mm

Signed: Gakutei
Provenance: T. Hayashi (1854-1906), Lugt 2971
Series: Parody of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, a set of seven - Mitate shichifukujin

We know many facsimiles of this series printed in the early nineties of the nineteenth century. The originals are, on the contrary, very rare.

Very fine impression with extensive use of karazuri and application of silver powder. Colour very well preserved. It should be noted the refinement of the choice of colour for the box that the woman holds up, which is in harmony with the colours of her dress.

The series, designed by Gakutei for the poetic circle Shippō, associates figures of female beauties with the seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin). The circle symbol appears in the title cartouche at the top right and is repeated as a background of the print,  accompanied by the fuku character (good luck) and by stylized pictures of bats, an animal which,  by phonetic association, indicates, in East Asia, good luck.

In this specific print the association is with Ebisu, the god of fishermen and merchants, to whom alludes the fish in the basket in front of the woman. The poem, by Seigaen Masako, refers to the box of letters that the girl holds in her right hand and to the custom of sending greeting letters for the New Year.

Another fine impression of the print is at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, accession number 54755.8