Utagawa Sadafusa

active ca. 1818-50

Five Scenes of the Eastern Capital: Ueno
(Toto gokei no uchi: Ueno)

signed Gokitei Sadafusa ga, with publisher's seal Kawacho (Kawaguchiya Chozo), censor's seal Kiwame (approved), 1830s

oban tate-e 15 by 10 3/8 in., 38 by 26.5 cm

A beauty wearing a natty blue and black checkered short coat draws our attention to a bolt of yellow and green striped fabric which she holds aloft while looking over her shoulder towards a small pile of additional reams of cloth. Perhaps a textile shop salesgirl or seamstress, she pairs the haori-type jacket usually worn by men with a double-layerd obi which is black on one side and green with a decorative band of yellow and blue 'cracked ice' on the other. The Benkei-koushi pattern on her coat, formed by overlapping horizontal and vertical lines of equal widths, is named after Benkei, a popular kabuki hero known for his strength. In one of the most famous kabuki scenes in the play The Subscription List (Kanjincho), Benkei traditonally wears a plaid kosode beneath a black vest, or haori with a similar striped pattern as seen on the kosode worn by this beauty. Her layers of clothing are appropriate for the cold weather suggested by the inset circular cartouche with a snow-covered landscape of the hilly area of Ueno printed in the trendy monotone palette of an aizuri-e (lit. 'blue print').

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession no. 17.3213.17 (similar Sadafusa print published by Oden)

(inv. no. 10-5592)

price: Sold

Utagawa Sadafusa



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site last updated
October 3, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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