Female Ghost by Sasaki Bizan

Japanese, born 1876
Meiji period, late 19th-early 20th
Century Ink and color on silk Museum purchase, funds provided by the Kathleen M. Axline Acquisition Endowment

During the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of novels and plays were written about ghosts in human form (yurei) who return to this world to seek vengeance against those who wronged them while they were alive. In many of these stories, the yurei was a woman who had been murdered by either a treacherous husband or lover. Soon these tragic figures became fashionable themes in the visual arts. By the Meiji era such fearsome images had become standard, and it was widely held that female yurei, driven by jealousy, hatred and sorrow, appeared to haunt those who had caused their unhappiness until they had achieved release from their obsession. This scroll bears the signature of Sasaki Bizan, a relatively little known artist from the city of Hiroshima whose lineage of teachers can be traced back to the founder of this fascinating painting genre.