Artist: Numata Gessai 沼田月斎 (1787-1864)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, late 18th-early19th century
Full color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 69.5 x 74.2 cm (27 3/8 x 29 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

courtesan, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, ukiyo-e

To 1900
Ikeda Seisuke (1839-1900), Kyoto, to 1900 [1]

To 1906
S. Ikeda, Tokyo, to 1906 [2]

From 1906 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from S. Ikeda in 1906 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 527, no. I, pg. 145, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1. It is probable that S. Ikeda refers to Ikeda Sei’emon (or Seisuke II), the eldest son of the well-known Japanese dealer and collector Ikeda Seisuke (1839-1900). Ikeda Sei’emon maintained shops in Tokyo and Kyoto under the trade name S. Ikeda & Co. After the death of his father, Ikeda Sei’emon sold a number of objects from his father's collection (Ikeda Collection).

[3] See notes 1 and 2.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

S. Ikeda (C.L. Freer source)
Ikeda Seisuke 1839-1900
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Fantasy and reality meet in the many images of courtesans and kabuki actors in the “floating world” (ukiyo) of Edo and other urban centers. Prints for the mass market and paintings for more privileged owners celebrated the beauty and artistic abilities of high-class courtesans and geisha, who were often skilled in poetry, calligraphy, music, and dance. Here, a seated courtesan relaxes for a moment, enfolded in her loosely wrapped kimono.

This painting is in an unusual nearly square format and signed “Gessai Gabimaru.” He is associated with only a few surviving works, all of them showing courtesans and geisha. The artist’s identity and artistic lineage remain unclear, but this painting, acquired by Charles Lang Freer in 1906, reveals the elegance and grace of the Japanese artist’s figure paintings.

Published References
  • Ikeda Seisuke. The Ikeda Collection of Kakemonos and Screens. Kyoto. cat. 43, fig. 50.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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