Chobunsai Eishi and Japan art: Days of Edo Period

Chobunsai Eishi and Japan art: Days of Edo Period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) was a famous artist of bijin-ga (beautiful women) by the 1790s. He belongs to the Edo Period and had the luxury of being a court painter for the ruling shogunate – for a set period. Therefore, with the economic angle being non-stressful, Eishi focused on his own style of art from the late 1790s onward. 

Kano Michinobu (1730-1790) was his first real teacher of acclaim. This concerns his wealthy background. Hence, the art school of Kano was appropriate for the son of a wealthy samurai family.

However, the artistic world of ukiyo-e appealed to Eishi. Thus, he focused on bijin-ga prints and some angles concerning nature. Therefore, he was famous for his depictions of ladies.

The British Museum says, “One of the leading painters of women of the 1790s, Eishi was a vassal of the Shogunate with a generous stipend of 500 ‘koku’ (90,000 liters) of rice. He drew elegant, refined, idealized portraits of women based on the style of Kiyonaga, establishing his own school and serving as a rival to Utamaro. In the late 1790s he ceased to design woodblock prints and concentrated exclusively on paintings, at his own leisure.”

Eishi admired many notable artists. This especially applies to Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) and Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815). However, he provided his own distinctive style concerning bijin-ga – even if he was influenced by Utamaro and Kiyonaga.

Eishi’s non-stressful economic lifestyle entailed that he focused on painting at his own leisure during the last few decades of his life. Thus, he left behind his earlier focus on printing.


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