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Bijin-ga Prints: Natori Shunsen

After the success of his first series of actor prints, Natori Shunsen designed three bijin-ga prints with the publisher Watanabe. These prints were beautifully carved and printed, but lack the dramatic emotion depicted in his actor prints. The seeming passivity of the women is typical of bijin-ga prints of this period. The women are all engaged in some aspect of feminine beauty, from dressing to preparing their hair. Their focus is inward and they seem detached from the viewer.

The print, Woman Combing Hair, considered the masterpiece of Shunsen's bijin-ga prints, uses very delicate shading to depict the curves of the woman's body. The luminous outlines of her body are set off by the rough swirling lines of the background and the intricate pattern of the draped fabric. This print is similar in subject matter to Takahashi Shotei's print Awabi Pearl Fisher and Torii Kotondo's print Combing in the Bath.

1. Woman Before a Mirror
(1928, oban)

2. Woman Combing Hair
(1928, oban)

3. Maiko Preparing Coiffure
(1928, oban)

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