Mirror of Women Ancient and Modern: Group of Nine Prints (complete set as known)
(Kokon [Kokin] hime kagami: 9)
set of nine prints (complete as known); very finely printed, most with shomenzuri (burnishing) on the black details; each signed Oju Yoshitoshi ga, seven with artist's seal Yoshitoshi, one sealed Taisho, and one unsealed, all but one with block carver's seal Horiko Hidekatsu (Ota Hidekatsu), published by Yorozuya Magobei, ca. 1875-76
each oban tate-e approx.14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.2 by 25.5 cm
A group of nine prints from Yoshitoshi's scarce bijin series Mirror of Women, Ancient and Modern presenting legendary women accompanied by descriptive text. Variations in the kanji used in the series title suggest a playful nuance to each woman's cultural significance, some with the second character flipped as if a mirror image (a visual pun on the mirror theme), and utilizing other kanji that sound like 'hime' (lit. 'princess' or 'noble lady') but have different meanings.
The series seems to be loosely modeled after a similar series of ten produced by his teacher Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), Mirror of Women of Wisdom and Courage published in circa 1844. Yoshitoshi's grouping presents only three of the same women as in Kuniyoshi series: the heroic Tomoe Gozen, the strong woman Oiko, and the poet Chiyojo.
1. Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the early 11th century epic novel, The Tale of Genji, pushing her mane of hair out of the way while reading a handscroll.
2. Tomoe Gozen, the late 12th century female samurai warrior, wearing armor and holding a halberd, its lacquer staff appropriately decorated with the tomoe-mon.
3. The strong woman Oiko of Takashima gracefully balancing a full water bucket on her head while deftly pinching the arm of a wrestler (Saeki Ujinaga) trying to tackle her from behind.
4. Matsumisha no Tsubone composing a letter beside a large vase with blossoming plum.
5. The wife of Akechi Mitsuhide holding a bottle of sake while trying to shield herself from a driving rain.
6. The famous late 17the century courtesan Usugumo of the Miura house tickling the face a white spotted cat, her kimono decorated with an array of lounging felines.
7. The poet Chiyojo emerging from beneath a moquito net wearing a kimono decorated with a pattern of stylized morning glories, the subject of one of her most famous poems.
8. The Court Lady Asaoka watching a mouse climb down the edge of a screen while holding a lantern.
9. The poet Ome Shushiki (1668-1725) amid falling cherry blossoms, the subject of her most famous poem.
Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 120th Memorial Retrospective, 2012, p. 86, nos. 120 (Oiko) and 121 (Tomoe Gozen)
Amy Newland & Chris Uhlenbeck, Yoshitoshi, 2011, p. 162, Appendix II, series no. 52, records nine known designs (illus. The Wife of Akechi Mitsuhide)
Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi, 2014, p. 158, no. 242 (Murasaki), p. 159, no. 243 (Usugumo)
British Museum, accession nos. 1906,1220,0.1382 (Tomoe Gozen), 1915,0823,0.389.10 (Shushiki)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cole Collection, M.84.31.205 (Lady Asaoka)
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Ed Freis Collection, 2017.106.129 (Chiyojo)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, accession nos. 11.45575 (Murasaki Shikibu), 11.37600 (Shushiki)
Philadelphia Museum of Art, accession no. 1989-47-2 (Usugumo), 1989-47-3 (Chiyojo)
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site last updated
January 16, 2020
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
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