Geisha Portrait Painting

Large hand-painted painting of a Japanese Geisha

Japanese Geisha Painting by Frank Wagtmans
Large portrait painting of a Japanese Geisha by Frank Wagtmans


Japanese Geisha Painting by Frank Wagtmans
Hand-painted artwork of a Geisha completely handmade by Frank Wagtmans.


This large portrait of a young Geisha woman was painted on a large canvas of 200x140cm. Wagtmans has drawn this Geisha carefully and extremely refined, after which he has shaped it step by step with many layers of acrylic paint into the result you see here. The beautiful colour palette with mainly red, green, purple, brown and black colours give this unique painting a mysterious Oriental touch. A painting like this will attract all attention in whatever room it will hang. The painting has some thicker textured paint applied here and there to make it more realistic. The signature is similarly applied with thicker paint texture on the canvas. The whole thing has been sealed with a nice high gloss varnish for a long protective effect.


Wagtmans series 'Becoming a Geisha' takes you to Japan, the land of the rising sun. The paintings are characterized by an explosion of colours, extremely powerful, three-dimensional relief, a thick paint structure and clean compositions. Wagtmans uses a special technique to depict the striking geishas. When you view the portrait from up close, a big surprise will be revealed: his large paintings are made up of various materials. A unique technique. You have to get up close to see how the composition is created. In traditional Japanese culture, a geisha, geiko or geigi is an artists' muse. Geisha literally translates as 'art person'. Typical of the geisha are the wigs of black hair, white powdered faces with red lips and striking decorated kimonos or silk clothing. The Japanese considered geishas to be the epitome of beauty and refined culture.

The painting process

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Portrait starts with making a sketch

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Applying the first colour layer

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Applying the third colour layer

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Creating details

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Creating thick paint texture

Japanese Geisha Painting process

Varnishing the painting


Believe it or not, the original geisha hardly resembled modern geisha in any way. The first geisha were actually male, appearing around the year 1730. It was only about 20 years later that female geisha began to appear in the forms of odoriko (踊り子, meaning dancers) and shamisen players, and they quickly took over the profession, dominating it by 1780.

The original role of geisha was as an assistant to the oiran, high-class and every expensive Japanese courtesans who resided in the pleasure quarters of Edo (modern-day Tokyo), Kyoto, and other major cities in the Edo Period (1603-1886). As the courtesans feared geisha stealing their customers, regulations at the time forbade geisha from forming personal relations with customers. In fact, they were not even allowed to sit near guests. 

However, patrons visiting the courtesans gradually began to gravitate towards the less expensive and much more socially accessible geisha, and by the 1800s, geisha for the most part were replacing oiran as the center of parties. As the popularity of the oiran waned in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the popularity of geisha only grew, as they became vital providers of hospitality and entertainment at dinner events for large companies and government officials. The popularity of geisha grew continually up until the 1920s, when there were as many as 80,000 geisha throughout Japan entertaining guests. It was only as the country became involved in international warfare that the strain on Japanese society threatened the role and prestige of the geisha profession.

Japanese Geisha Painting by Frank Wagtmans
Hand-painted portrait of a Geisha by Frank Wagtmans.