Utagawa School, 19th century
Preparatory Drawing of a Woman Assembling a Doll While Seated at a Tea Stall
sumi ink on paper, unsigned, with notations regarding colors, ca. 1830
conserved on achival paper 15 3/4 by 11 in., 40.1 by 27.8 cm
Although the artist for this preparatory drawing has not yet been identified, it seems to have been inspired in part by an untitled print by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) depicting a woman at a tea stall reading a letter from his series A Collection of Otsu-e (Otsu-e tsukushi) published by Iseya Rihei of Kinjudo in circa 1825. The drawing presents a woman in nearly the same position with her legs crossed while seating at a similar tea stall. In both designs her hair hangs loose with only one comb to keep it from falling into her eyes. In the drawing the tea stall is configured slightly differently with the shelves moved to the left and bench extended to the right with vertical bamboo blinds framing the space above. The woman in the print is completely engrossed in reading her letter; likewise the woman in the drawing seems happily concentrating on tying back the coiffure of her small doll.
It appears to be a near-final version of a composition with very detailed instructions for the carver and printer on how the coloration should be addressed. These details would not be given if the design were not yet approved for production. While the absolute final version of the design, the hanshita, would be destroyed in the normal process of carving the keyblock, drawings of this type would have been helpful to keep on hand during the production process, particularly for the printer, to ensure that the artist's intentions were followed.
Library of Congress, call no. FP 2 - JPD, no. 1629 (Kunisada print)
Robert Schaap, Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty, 2016, p. 49, no. 15 (Kunisada print from the Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, Leiden, no. I-4472-196)
(inv. no. 10-2691)
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