Yoshu Chikanobu, 1838-1912
Preparatory Drawing with Print of 'Mirror of the Ages: Lady in the An'ei Era'
(Jidai kagami: An'ei no koro)
the sumi ink on paper preparatory drawing with print title at lower right, An'ei, identifying which era this beauty will represent; together with an impression of the corresponding original print with subtle carving and printing of her hair and karazuri (embossing) on her white collar; signed Yoshu Chikanobu with artist's Yo seal, dated at upper left, Meiji nijukyunen juichigatsu tsuitachi insatsu (printed in Meiji 29 , November 1st), Donen dogetsu itsuka hakko (published in the same year and month, 5th), followed by publisher's information Rinji insatsuken hakkosha, Matsuki Heikichi, with his address in Nihonbashi-ku, 1896
drawing 14 5/8 by 9 7/8 in., 37.3 by 25 cm.
oban tate-e 14 3/4 by 9 1/2 in., 37.5 by 25.
The preliminary drawing illustrates a beauty of the An'ei Era (1772-1781) with her hair in a style reminscent of that period with just one comb surmounting a topknot held together in a loop with stiff red hair-tie. Above her another An'ei beauty with a similar hairstyle sits within in a horizontal cartouche with ragged edges suggestive of an age-worn scroll. In contrast, the finished print utilizes the exact same beauty, but tilts her positioning by approximately 30 degrees directing her gaze downward into a mirror just visible in the lower right corner. She holds a mirror within a lacquered case up to the left corner in an effort to check the back view of her coiffure. The seated beauty in the upper cartouche of the drawing has been replaced with a scene more relevant to the new composition titled kagami togi (mirror-polisher), illustrating a polisher hard at work in the company of waiting customers. While the design of the beauty in both works is extremely similar (it is possible line up the details of her face in the drawing over the print by rotating the sheet slightly), the connection to the print may not have been as clear were it not for the title 'An'ei' inscribed in the lower right corner of the drawing.
(inv. no. C-1777)
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