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.


In this impressive painting, the graceful presence of a geisha comes to life on a large canvas measuring 200x140 cm. The artwork is meticulously crafted with numerous layers of acrylic paint, incorporating thick paint structures in specific areas to add a tangible depth. The geisha adorns a beautiful kimono decorated with floral motifs, reflecting the elegance of traditional Japanese culture. The background, a harmonious blend of deep blue, green, and sienna, creates an atmospheric backdrop that further enhances the prominence of the geisha.

The kimono, with its flower-rich ornaments, accentuates the refinement and attention to detail characteristic of geisha culture. Each flower on the kimono may carry symbolic significance, as flowers in Japanese culture are often associated with meaning and emotions. This imparts not only visual splendor to the painting but also depth and significance.

The background, saturated with deep blue, green, and sienna tones, establishes an ambiance that amplifies the mysterious and timeless allure of the geisha. The color palette takes inspiration from natural elements frequently found in Japanese art and culture, such as the deep blue hues of the night and the calming greens of nature.

Geishas are highly trained and artistic performers renowned for their skills in music, dance, song, and hospitality. They embody Japanese tradition and aesthetics, with their role extending beyond mere entertainment. Geishas excel in entertaining guests during traditional tea ceremonies, banquets, and cultural gatherings.

The distinctive appearance of a geisha includes carefully applied white makeup, intricate hairstyles, and colorful kimonos adorned with beautiful patterns. Their presence exudes elegance and mystery, and they are regarded as custodians of traditional Japanese arts.

The painting, with its lavish kimono and profound color palette, not only pays homage to the aesthetics of the geisha but also honors the deep-rooted artistic and cultural legacy of Japan. It captures the timeless grace of the geisha and invites the viewer to immerse themselves in the rich and enchanting world of Japanese tradition.


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.