Katsushika Oi (ca. 1800–1860) was highly regarded in her lifetime: her famous father, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), is reported to have said that her pictures of beautiful women were better than his own, while another contemporary artist commented that she had established a “reputation as a talented painter.” Yet only a handful of paintings and two illustrated books bear her signature. Given her reputation and her skill, why are there so few works remaining from the hand of Oi? This talk reconsiders Oi’s career, style, and legacy in the context of the Katsushika studio in her lifetime, arguing that her contributions have been vanished for the modern market, for reception abroad, and for profit.
Julie Nelson Davis specializes in the arts and material cultures of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japan, with a focus on prints, paintings, and illustrated books. She is a Professor of Art History and the Department Chair at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Night Scene in the Yoshiwara, 1850, Katsushika Oi, ink and paper drawing, Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Tokyo