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The Courtesan Hanamurasaki of the Tamaya, ca. 1830

Keisai Eisen (1790–1848)

Hanamurasaki, a courtesan from the exclusive Tamaya house, is accompanied by her two kamuro attendants. The work is made using a technique called aizuri-e (blue printed picture).

Starting in the late 1820s, woodblock print publishers gained easier access to a new imported blue pigment called bero (a derivation from Berlyns blaauw; also known as Prussian blue). Unlike the already circulating blue pigments indigo and dayflower, this new pigment offered greater vibrancy and stability. Developed in Berlin in the early 18th century, it had sporadically made its way to Japan since the 1780s. However, it was primarily used by painters due to its expense. By the 1830s, competition among Dutch and Chinese importers made it cheaper and we see it being used to create alternative states of print designs.


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