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Hanging scroll with a very fine painting of a female severed head by Tomioka Eisen. The very realistic face is rendered in blue and green hues, giving it a very real impression of death. The mouth is twisted into a grimace showing the immaculate teeth, blood stains on the temple. Black ink and color on silk. Signed: Mosai giga (drawn for amusement). Seal: Eisen. Japan, Meiji period, around 1900. Red lacquered wooden scroll ends
Painted area: 15.5 x 12.25 in. (39.4 x 31 cm); whole length: 51 inches (129.5 cm).
Tomioka Eisen (1864-1905) was a pupil of Kobayashi Eitaku who was a follower of the Kano school of painting, but later in life turned to illustrating in the ukiyoe style. Eisen, after his master’s death, became focused on a serious painter’s career. He devoted himself to painting, illustrations in magazines (kuchi-e), and shunga.
A very similar painting was painted in 1848/49 by Hokuyo, a pupil of Hokusai. It can be assumed that Eisen painted this head after Katsuyo, turning it upright. If you would turn the painting face down again, the flow of the hair would be much more natural.