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Female artists play a significant role in Japan’s art world today, but a century ago, only a few women made a mark in the then male-dominated field. Shoen Uemura stands out as one of the most successful, a status she earned through the relentless study and perfection of her chosen theme of bijin-ga — pictures of beautiful women.

“Uemura Shoen,” at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, revisits the artist’s career by showing around 90 paintings, which are complemented by more than 30 rarely exhibited sketches.

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