Utamaro: Oiran TsukiokaUtamaro: Oiran Tsukioka
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Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)

The famous beauty and high-ranking courtesan (Oiran) Tsukioka from the Hyôgo house reading a volume of poetry, a stack of books lying beside her. Her sumptuous reddish-brown padded kimono, embroidered with a depiction of a floral chariot, has slipped off her shoulders, her elaborate hairstyle is adorned with numerous long hairpins.

Above her a calligraphed waka poem by Ono no Komachi (c. 825-c. 900), famous female classical poet of the Heian period, which the ageing Komachi replied to a poem addressed to her by the Emperor: 雲のうへは / ありしむかしに / かはらねど // 見し玉だれの / うちや床しき Kumo no ue wa / arishi mukashi ni / kawaranedo // mishi tamadare no / uchiya yukashiki (Even though above the clouds (i.e. at court) things are no different today than they were in the past, I do remember fondly my time behind the jewelled curtains).

Title: Hyôgo-ya Tsukioka - Hagino Kikuno (The courtesan Tsukioka of the Hyôgo house, her Kamuro apprentices are Hagino and Kikuno)

Series: Yûkun nana Komachi (Courtesans in the seven famous episodes from the life of the poet Ono no Komachi)

Signature: Utamaro hitsu

Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei (Sen'ichi, Kansendô), Edo

Date: c. 1805

Original Japanese colour woodblock print. Size: Vertical Ôban, 37.7 x 25.7 cm (overall)

Beautiful nishiki-e woodblock print on a full sheet, with partly still very good colours, in the unmistakable style of the great master Utamaro. Overall still in very good condition.

Cf. Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Bigelow Collection, No. 11.14240.

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