From the Industrial Revolution to World War I, C. 1850–1914

Japanese Art

Who was Suzuki Harunobu?

Suzuki Harunobu (1724–1770) was an innovative Edo printmaker who was the first to produce multicolored prints. He became famous for his nishiki-e (brocade) prints of beautiful courtesans, including Geisha as a Daruma Crossing the Sea (mid-eighteenth century), which depicts an elegant woman wrapped in a red cloak, staring into the wind as nearby reeds seem to rustle behind her. The print is an example of Harunobu’s mastery of color, and of the popularity of not only courtesan scenes, but also of theater in ukiyo-e painting, as the woman takes on the persona of the mythological Daruma. During the Edo period, stylized kabuki theater was extremely popular, and pictures like this often depicted popular actors and characters from the stage. Suzuki Harunobu was one of the most commercially successful artists working in Edo (Tokyo) and his multicolored prints helped to popularize the ukiyo-e style.


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