Kitao Shigemasa

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Kitao Shigemasa was an ukiyo-e artist particularly known for his book illustrations, though he produced single-sheet prints as well.

The son of an Edo-based publisher, Shigemasa was largely self-taught in painting and print design, though he might have trained for a time with an obscure Kanô school artist.

He began producing prints in the period when the beni-e ("rose print") mode dominated, but his more famous and distinctive works came in the late 1760s to 1770s, after the advent of the full-color nishiki-e print. He produced relatively few paintings and single-sheet prints, focusing chiefly on designs for books, illustrating over 300 over the course of his career.

Shigemasa's works, particularly his most famous works depicting geisha, are marked by fuller forms than the thin, willowy girls of Harunobu's prints, and by the close, dramatic grouping of figures, something which would go on to be employed extensively by Utamaro and others.

His students included Santô Kyôden, Kitao Masayoshi, and Kubo Shunman.


  • Lane, Richard. Images from the Floating World. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1978. p128.
  • Morse, Anne Nishmura et al. The Allure of Edo: Ukiyo-e Painting from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (江戸の誘惑: ボストン美術館所蔵 肉筆浮世絵展, Edo no yûwaku: Bosuton bijutsukan shozô nikuhitsu ukiyoe ten). Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun-sha, 2006. p184.