Utagawa School, 19th century

Preparatory Drawing of a Courtesan on Parade Wearing an Uchikake Decorated with a Dragon

sumi ink on paper, unsigned, with notations regarding colors, ca. 1820-30s

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 may have been inspired by the work of Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) or Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865). 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.

Reference: (inv. no. 10-2686) For an example of a courtesan in a similar pose, see Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum of Art, 2012, p. 83, pl. 66 (inv. no. 10-2687)


Utagawa School
Eisen, Tatsunokuchi, Oi of Suga-Taebiya, ca. 1829


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