Isoda Koryusai (c.1735-ninety) originally a samurai became, after the demise of his master, the lord of Tsuchiya, a so-termed rônin (a lordless knight) and a ‘floating man’. Most of these ‘floating people’ finished up in lower h2o but Koryusai selected to be a painter and a designer of woodblock prints. At very first he was most likely a student of Nishimura Shigenaga (1697-1756) but his buddy and Ukiyo-e learn Harunobu (c.1725-1770) had the finest impact on his do the job. It was Harunobu who gave him the go (pseudonym) Koryusai, his actual title was Masakatsu, which he had made use of when himself in the previous. The regard and admiration for his trainer were so excellent that Koryusai designed his possess style not until finally Harunobu died. He exceeded in diverse print formats and Ukiyo-e genres in particular in the pillar print structure and the shunga (erotic) genre which will be dealt with in the subsequent paragraphs.    

Pillar Print  

Koryusai obtained impressive results in the very long and slim structure of the pillar print (hashira-e) working with an exclusive style of opulent, abundant and ornamental coloring and for reintroducing the use of opaque orange (tan) which had characterised the hand-coloured prints of the previous. He also used the vertical dimensions of this structure to give it the physical appearance of a hanging scroll (kakemono) buying a specified stratification. As in the regular style of Japanese landscape painting the eyes of the viewer get started at the base of the impression foremost the eye to the center element and then to the higher element depiciting the history. In general hashira-e are rare since at the time they have been connected to wooden columns as element of the Japanese interior and hence a lot more inclined to hurt. But because of to the substantial quantity of pillar prints Koryusai developed in this structure a ton of his layouts have survived.       

Erotic Perform  

“In colour and line, in the creation of the whole environment of physical adore, the best of Koryusai’s erotic colour prints are unsurpassed in Japanese artwork and this particularly points out the significant esteem in which he is held among connoisseurs – for few people have at any time pursued the cult of artistic erotica as assiduously as the Japanese”. (Richard Lane)

During Harunobu and Koryusai’s interval of activity govt censorship was alternatively unfastened giving them the opportunity to experiment inside the genre of shunga. In some cases they even signed their layouts frequently positioning them within the frame of a sliding door or display screen. Koryusai’s early do the job resembles that of Harunobu but he step by step designed his possess style working with attribute vivid hues (his well-known orange!), expressing a multi-hued vitality and depicting a lot more realistic figures. Initially woodblock artists worked in the chuban structure (ca. 265 x 195 mm) until Koryusai released the greater oban structure (ca. 390 x 265 mm) in the multi-color printing medium generating two masterpiece sequence termed Sensual Colours, A Phoenix Introduced in the Field’ and Twelve Retains of Love’  which have been released in ca.1775. In the chuban structure his most well-known sequence is ‘Prosperous Bouquets of the Elegant Twelve Seasons’  (ca.1773) depicting amorous encounters for every single of the twelve months.    


If one examines the literature on the record of Ukiyo-e and in unique the artist Koryusai one realises the total consensus among critics on his fantastic craftmanship, originality and groundbreaking inside this Japanese artwork. With the total acknowledgement of his genius the dilemma why he is so undervalued until finally this working day will become a lot more specific. Probably a single of the causes was Koryusai’s modest temperament and the loyalty to his trainer and buddy Harunobu sometimes even signing with his name. Jack Hillier raises an interesting principle in his ebook ‘The Japanese Print – A New Approach’  when he opts:  

“There is normally, in particular among collectors, a inclination to make comparison concerning artist and artist, and with Koryusai it is maybe a situation of we search before and after and pine for what is not”.        

Significant Contemporaries  

Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) Eishosai Choki (act. ca. 1789-1795) Chokyosai Eiri (act. ca. 1789-1801) Toshusai Sharaku (act. 1794-95), Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 -1806), Katsukawa Shuncho (act. ca.1780s-early 1800s) Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-ninety three).


‘Shunga, the Artwork of Enjoy in Japan’  (1975) – Tom and Mary Evans, ‘The Finish Ukiyo-e Shunga’  (Vol.three) (1995) – R. Lane,  ‘Japanese Erotic Prints’  (2002) – Inge Klompmakers, ‘Japanese Erotic Fantasies’  (2005) – C. Uhlenbeck and M. Winkel, ‘The Japanese Print – A New Approach’  (1960) – J.Hillier.    

Supply by Marijn Kruijff