Standing Courtesan, Referring To Tôbôsaku

Yashima Gakutei
1786 - 1868
Standing Courtesan, Referring To Tôbôsaku
c. 1824
Woodblock print, nishiki-e
Surimono, shikishiban 208 x 182 mm

Signed: Toto Gakutei
Series: The biographies of wise men parodied by courtesans, a set of seven - Keisei mitate Ressenden, shichiban no uchi.

Very fine impression with metallic printing, the background decorated with a design of stylized cranes, printed in delicate blue colour. Fine colour ad condition.

The series, designed by Gakutei for the poetic circle Tsurunoya, links famous courtesans to the immortals of the Chinese Taoist tradition. In this print the allusion is to Dongfang Shuo, who concealed a peach of immortality from the garden of the Queen Mother of the West. The immortal is often depicted on a cloud as he turns back to make sure of the success of his escape. In this print the courtesan is in the same position as Dongfang Shuo and the ball and the shuttlecock, used in New Year’s entertainments, hint to the magic peach.

The poem, by Ki no Mamanari, reads

This graceful beauty / dressed for the newly arrived / season of spring / has the teasing allure / of Seiobo’s peaches

John Carpenter, Reading Surimono, Leiden, 2008.
Matthi Forrer, Surimono in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Leiden, 2013.