VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Seiro Bijin Awase, A Contest among the Beautiful Women of the Green House, Yoshiwara
CBL J 1653
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

While it is difficult to gauge accurately the influence of this early example of colour images in printed books, there is little doubt that with its soft delicate greens against a gray background, the intricate details of the courtesans’ kimonos, and of course the varied poses and activities of the subjects, the collection of illustration served as a source of inspiration for Harunobu’s contemporaries. Dated 1770, the Chester Beatty work seems to be one of the earliest printed copies of the first edition.

History of the Object
This is undoubtedly Harunobu’s most famous and influential work. The original five volumes are bound together in one thick book and are classified according to the four seasons: spring, summer (two volumes), autumn, and winter. They comprise a collection of 166 colour portraits of courtesans, each accompanied by the woman’s name and a hokku poem (of 5-7-5 syllable lines).

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Type
Book 
Materials
Printed in ink and colours on paper 
Measurements
Width 18,0 cm. Height 25,5 cm.  
Creator name
Suzuki Harunobu  
Creator date
1724-1770 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century; 1770 
Function
genre illustrations 
Acquisition
Bought through Bluetts, London, from Mme Berès, Paris, in August 1954. 
Copyright
(c) Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Chester Beatty Library  
Museum
The Chester Beatty Library 
Credit line
Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library 

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