Japan art and Suzuki Harunobu: Serenity

Japan art and Suzuki HarunobuSerenity

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The highly acclaimed Japanese artist Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770) is one of the most important artists of eighteenth-century Japan concerning ukiyo-e. His eye for detail – and Harunobu’s charming depictions of women in all types of weather – are a real treat.

In the above art piece, the lady remains dignified, focused, and untroubled despite the strong wind. Therefore, she gracefully holds down her clothes and quietly goes on her way.

Harunobu is famous for his delightful bijin-ga art (beautiful ladies). However, in the opposite direction, he also created erotic art (shunga) pieces that are a million miles away. 

In the art piece above, the lady remains dignified and unflustered by the icy cold conditions. Thus, she blends naturally in the winter setting depicted by Harunobu.

The Portland Art Museum says, “A painter and print designer, Suzuki Harunobu (1725?–1770) drew his subject matter not only from the urban entertainments of the city of Edo—what was known in his day as ukiyo-e, “pictures of the floating world”—but also from the classical poetry of China and Japan and scenes of everyday life. Harunobu’s imagery often conveys amusing subtexts that appealed especially to the cognoscenti of his day, but it was the striking color of his prints that drove his success at a critical moment in Japanese printmaking—and that has shaped his legacy ever since.”

Harunobu made the mundane come alive through the prism of art and his elegant depictions of ladies. Before parting from this world, Harunobu was instrumental in Nishiki-e (multi-colored woodblock printing).

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