Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


Modern World: Chiyo's Enjoyment
(Tosei: Chiyo no tanoshimi)

signed Gototei Kunisada ga, with censor's seal Kiwame (approved) and publisher's seal Cho, Shiba Shin Aritaya (Aritaya Seiemon of Yueido), mid 1830s

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.3 by 25.4 cm

A weary beauty sits slumped against a post on the corner of a verandah with her legs pulled up towards her chest as her kimono falls slightly open below her knees. White petals of a weeping cherry tree visible against the darkening night sky set the season as late spring. The evening is warm as she has pushed her sleeves up past her elbows. She drapes one arm over her knees, gripping a packet of tissues and dangling a long tobacco pipe, while wiping her brow with the other hand. Her indigo-dyed kimono is decorated with an intricate circular pattern of overlapping stylized temari balls and the collars of her inner-robes alternate with black, brown and white striped, red, and a blue and white keyfret pattern. Her black obi is decorated an archaic seal on the hem and the edge and underside is lined with a brown fabric decorated with a scrolling floral motif.

This print is from a scarce series likening modern beauties to the popular female poet, Kaga no Chiyo (Fukuda Chiyo-ni, 1703-1775). Only one other design from this series has been located in the collection of Waseda University depicting a teenage girl playing with a toddler. The series title, Tosei, within the Toshidama-shaped cartouche is reminiscent of an earlier Kunisada bijin series published by Shimizu in the 1820s with two versions of the series title, Jisei usugesho, and Tosei usugesho, which can be translated as Light Makeup of Present Times, and Light Makeup in the Modern Style, respectively. Artists frequently used the term 'Tosei' (lit. modern) in the titles of their prints, associating their designs as representing the most up-to-date styles.

Andreas Marks, Publisher's of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, 2011, p. 99 (this series); p. 236 (1820s series)
Waseda University, Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, no. 201-1935 (another print from this series)

(inv. no. 10-5357)

price: $1,800

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)



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site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475