Bijin-ga (美人画, "beautiful person picture") is a generic term for pictures of beautiful women in Japanese art, especially in woodblock printing of the ukiyo-e genre, which predate photography.

Three Beauties of the Present Day by Utamaro, 1793
Utamaro (1793) Three Beauties of the Present Time, MFAB 21.6382.jpg
ArtistKitagawa Utamaro

Ukiyo-e is a genre of woodblock prints and paintings that was produced in Japan from the 17th century to the 19th century. These woodblock prints depicted beautiful women; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flowers and animals and erotica. The prints were very popular amongst the Japanese merchants and the middle class of the time.

Nearly all ukiyo-e artists produced bijin-ga, it being one of the central themes of the genre. However, a few, including Utamaro, Suzuki Harunobu, Itō Shinsui, Toyohara Chikanobu, Uemura Shōen and Torii Kiyonaga, have been described as the greatest innovators and masters of the form.[citation needed]


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Further readingEdit

  • Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2012). Suzuki Harunobu: 100 Beauties. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B00AC2NB8Y
  • Hamanaka, Shinji. Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties. Hotei Publishing 2000. ISBN 90-74822-20-7

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