Japanese art and Edo artist Kitao Shigemasa

Japanese art and Edo artist Kitao Shigemasa

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820) was born in the environs of Nihonbashi. This part of Tokyo is extremely exclusive in modern times. However, the feel of this region was extremely different during the time of Shigemasa.

Similar to his future mentor, the artist Nishimura Shigenaga, he was originally self-taught. However, like his teacher, Shigenaga, he would develop his artistic skills.

The British Museum says, “Shigemasa produced color prints and paintings, but was principally active as a book illustrator, designing illustrations for over two hundred titles of mainly picture books, erotic books and novelettes. Among his color prints those of the 1770s are particularly fine – grand, elegant and full of delicacy. He was the founder of the Kitao School.”

Shigemasa’s bijinga highlights the influence of Suzuki Harunobu. Thus his art of beautiful ladies – along with the intricacy of fashion – is in the style of Harunobu.

Shigemasa also did artistic collaborations with the esteemed Katsukawa Shunshō. Outside of art – but related to his creative nature – Shigemasa adored Japanese calligraphy and poetry. Therefore, his artistic and cultural circle in the environs of Tokyo was expansive.


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