Van Gogh •
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Isoda Masakatsu, professionally known as Koryusai,
was born during the eighteenth century and died after 1788.
He was a pupil of Shigenaga (Torii) Kiyonaga of the Ukiyo-e group in Tokyo. Koryusai made prints during the years 1770 to 1780, but once his success was established, he spent the remaining years of his life painting, since, as a samurai, he considered printmaking a vulgar occupation.
Koryusai contributed greatly to the development of the print as an art form. His woodblocks were done in simple colors, with design achieved through use of strong calligraphic lines. His figures moved freely in space. He incorporated landscape details into his prints in a manner that demonstrates
his skill in composition. Koryusai's prints were unusually large, and he was able to compose in a long, narrow format suitable for mounting on kakemonos, or wall scrolls, for interior decoration. In the final versions of his style, he used a format of about sixteen inches in height by eleven in width, upon which he painted grandiose scenes in series of two or three prints to be used together. These frequently showed elaborately dressed women escorted by adolescents or children. Koryusai also made designs for folding-fan papers and fashion plates, and was responsible for the first truly individual portrait in the history of Japanese prints.