An image of Standing beauty

Kaigetsudô Anchi

(Japan  – )

Standing beauty

Other titles:
Not on display
Further information

The art of the floating world ('ukiyo-e') had two main subjects: the courtesans of the pleasure quarters and Kabuki actors. The portrayal of courtesans was a special category of painting termed 'bijin-ga', literally "paintings of beautiful women". In 'bijin-ga', an individual's personality was conveyed not through facial expression, but by pose, gesture, and the choice of colour and pattern for the kimono. The 'bijin' of these paintings were more than "pin-ups", they were symbols of a feminine ideal that transcended mere physical beauty. A high-ranking courtesan was expected to display a great aesthetic sensitivity and was esteemed not only for her sensuality, gracefulness and the unsurpassed feelings for colours and design in her clothing, but also for her skills at poetry, song, music and dance. The statuesque 'bijin' of the Kaigetsudô school is an 'ukiyo-e' classic: a single, standing figure against a blank ground, her figure defined by strong, sweeping outlines. This beauty, like all 'bijin-ga' is a fashion plate: her hairstyle dates her to the Kyôhô period (1716 - 36) and the viewer can be sure that her kimono with its refreshing pattern of reeds and shells, is of the latest fashion textile design. The most important assets of the courtesans were their hair and their kimono. They were forbidden to wear socks, and had to go barefoot even in the coldest winter. The inscription reads: 'Japanese-for-fun-only painting by Anchi, the last leaf of Kaigetsudô.'

AGNSW Collections, 1994, p. 225.

Place of origin
Japan: Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615–1868, Shôtoku era 1711–1715
18th century
hanging scroll: ink and colour on silk
107.5 x 46.0 cm image; 203.5 x 58.0 x 62.0 cm scroll
Signature & date

Signed l.r., Japanese [inscribed in red ink] "Kaigetsudo Anchi [artist's seal]". Not dated.

Bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993
Accession number