Isoda Koryūsai (1735-1790)
Beauty Hanging a Mosquito Net
Japan, Edo period, c. 1772
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1971
Honolulu Museum of Art
Harunobu defined new canons of beauty for the artists of the following generation, of which Koryūsai was an outstanding figure. Taking a similar subject, this composition compares favorably with Harunobu’s Beauty Reading a Letter Outside Mosquito Netting: a delicate girl, youthful to the point of naivety, prepares for bed, caught in a voyeuristic moment as her calf is exposed underneath her thin summer robe. Also resembling the model developed by Harunobu, Koryūsai adds nuance to the scene with a poem in the upper register:
He also ties the cords of mosquito netting,
The God of Marriage,
Under a summer moon.
By associating the deceptively simple action of tying mosquito netting with the woman’s desire to be bound to her love in marriage, the artist infuses the scene with an atmosphere of melancholy loneliness.