Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm); W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Gift of Estate of Samuel Isham, 1914
Not on view
In this illustration of a New Year's scene from the book "Ehon Waka Ebisu" (New Year's Day Customs), Utamaro has framed some women and children in a window as they watch a street performance of the shishimai, or lion dance. Several men form the lion, which chases after a boy, a man plays a flute while another adds to the excitement by beating two sticks together. A small boy with a frightened expression has been hoisted high for a better view out the window. Beside him a girl watches the spectacle intently, with her hand gripping a window ledge. Confining the spectators within a frame highlights their passivity and contrasts with the activity of the performers, who leap and stride across the horizontal expanse in the foreground. The concealment of their bodies reflects their psychological state, since the observers are completely absorbed in the act of watching and are not presenting themselves to be seen.
Signature: No, but the book is signed: Kitagawa Utamaro