Isoda Koryūsai , (Japanese, 1735-1790)
Color and gold on silk
W: 67.8 cm
Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1902.38
In these paintings, perhaps once part of a larger four-painting ensemble, Koryusai reveals himself to be a master of atmospheric evocation. His mature style, notable in the skillful depiction of worldly and sometimes churlish women, departs from the innocent beauties of the Harunobu style. The representation of the moods of the two women seen here (and the accompanying image, F1902.39) is elaborated by the surrounding context of nature. In this summer scene, a frowning courtesan opens her umbrella to guard against a sudden downpour. Her distinctive hair style, with exaggerated wings, was the rage in the An'ei era (177280). The silhouette of the hair style was said to suggest either an open umbrella or a lantern top. This clue reasonably indicates when the painting was produced.