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Woman Applying Makeup

Gion Seitoku Japanese

Not on view

This half-length portrait shows a woman applying lipstick, using the small stick clenched in the fingers of her right hand. The object in her left hand is a pocket mirror or perhaps the portable paper case containing the colorant for her lips. Though her upper lip is red, the lower one appears green, a style known as sasa-iro beni (bamboo grass red) that was popular during the late Edo period. It was achieved by using red makeup (beni) derived from safflower that turns an iridescent green when thickly applied.

Seitoku was active in Kyoto and known for his strikingly realistic portraits of geisha and courtesans, characterized by thick eyebrows, prominent noses, and staring eyes.

Woman Applying Makeup, Gion Seitoku (Japanese, active 1789–1830), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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