Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Mirror of Famous Ukiyo-e Artists: Picture by Okamura Masanobu
(Meihitsu ukiyo-e kagami: Tanchosai Okumura Bunkaku Masanobu hitsu)

signed Gototei Kunisada ga, with censor's seal kiwame and publisher's mark Jin (Maruya Jinpachi of Enjudo), ca. 1825

oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 10 in., 36.6 by 25.3 cm

A teenaged girl seated before a kyodai (vanity) stares into the mirror while concentrating at applying her eyebrow makeup. Her kimono is decorated with a wax-resist pattern of horse and cherry blossoms on a purple ground, contrasting with white bamboo leaves on a pink ground, and her light blue inner kimono has a geometric uroko (fish scale) motif. In the open cabinet we see various beauty products including a coil of the binding used in hairstyling. Her own coiffure adorned with several ornaments and rose-colored bows indicates that of a young woman, perhaps not yet adept in the application of her makeup. A lacquer pillow and cushion rest on her folded futon bedding in the background, and in the foreground there is a packet of Bien Senjoko face powder, whose owner, Mr. Sakamoto, frequently arranged such product placements in woodblock prints featuring bijin or kabuki actors. The cosmetic powder was named after Senjo, the poetry name of the actor Segawa Kikunojo III (1751-1810), a kabuki actor revered for his portrayals of female roles.

This print is one of nine known designs from a bijin series based on a theme celebrating early ukiyo-e artists. Each print includes a hanging scroll in the background illustrating a beauty identified with relevant artist's signature. In this composition the hanging scroll depicts a walking courtesan (identified by the large knot of her obi tied in the front) signed by the great ukiyo-e master, Okamura Masanobu (d. 1764). Other known prints from the series acknowledge the work of important ukiyo-e artists including Iwasa Matabei (1578-1650), Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-1694), Nishikawa Sukenobu (1671-1750), Isoda Koryusai (1735-1790), and Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-1792).

Mathew Welch & Yukio Kimura-Tilford, Worldly Pleasures, Earthly Delights: Japanese Prints from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011, p. 247, no. 208 (on Mr. Sakamoto and Bien Senjoko)
Murata Takako, Komda Makiko, trans., Fashion and Make-up of Edo Beauties Seen in Ukiyo-e Prints, 2018, pp. 12-13, no. 12
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bigelow Collection, accession number 11.30449

(inv. no. 10-5227)

price: $2,400

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)



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site last updated
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