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  • Thumbnail for The courtesan Tamagoto of Tamaya Brothel
    The courtesan Tamagoto of Tamaya Brothel by Toyoshige Toyokuni II

    Toyoshige is considered a somewhat mediocre pupil of Toyokuni I but as the artist’s son-in-law he became the head of the Utagawa school after Toyokuni I died. This infuriated Kunisada, who later became the head of the Utagawa school and he had Toyoshige’s name removed from the family roster.Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.