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Kitagawa Utamaro


Komurasaki of the Tamaya House After a Bath
(Gyokuro Komurasaki Yuagari no Fuzei)

signed Utamaro hitsu, with publisher’s seal of Yamaguchiya Chusuke, and red oval-shaped collector’s seal Buronto (Paul Blondeau) beneath the signature, ca. 1795-97.

oban tate-e 38.5 by 25.6 cm

Although the inscription at the upper right reads Gyokuro Komurasaki; the kanji for 'gyoku' can also be read 'tama.’ As such, Gyokuro is apparently another name for the prestigious Tamaya House, and this print is a portrait of the famous Komuraski of the Tamaya. While the brothels were all designated by ‘ya’ (house or shop) attached at the end of their names, around the Temmei Period (1781-1786) the character ‘ro’ (for two-storied houses) came into use. (De Becker, The Nightless City, p. 84).

For comparison with another impression in the Tokyo National Museum see Ukiyo-e Taikei, vol. 5, no. 230. In Ukiyo-e Zuten: Utamaro, Shibui groups this print with an untitled series of twelve, with only eight designs recorded, including a small black and white image (probably taken from the 1922 Haviland sale catalogue) of this impression (identified by the Blondeau collector seal). Since the 1964 publication of Ukiyo-e Zuten, two more designs from the series have been identified.

Ex. Collection Paul Blondeau, Paris
Ex. Collection Charles Haviland, Paris

Hotel Drouot, Paris, Collection Ch.Haviland: Estampes Japonaises, Premier Partie, sold November 27-29, 1922, lot no. 311. illus.
Kiyoshi Shibui, Ukiyo-e Zuten: Utamaro, 1964, vol. 13, p. 72

Society for Japanese Art, Westfries Museum in Hoorn, The Netherlands, Collected and Cherished, Japanese Art in Dutch Private Collections 1600-1900; September 2nd - October 22, 2000

price: Sold


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