Art/ Collection/ Art Object

太閤五妻洛東遊観之図
A View of the Pleasures of the Taiko and His Five Wives at Rakutō

Artist:
Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, ca. 1754–1806)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
1804
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
15 x 30 in. (38.1 x 76.2 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Gift of Estate of Samuel Isham, 1914
Accession Number:
JP992
Not on view
This triptych, published in 1804, portrays the famous cherry-blossom viewing party that Hideyoshi held in 1598. Ostensibly an innocent historical scene, its subject, the shogun whose heirs were overthrown by the ancestors of the ruling Yokugawa family was full of significance to the townsmen of Edo, who chafed under the restrictive and corrupt government. For his defiance of the official of ineffectual ban on this theme, Utamaro was jailed and spent fifty days in hand chains. This, combined with the extreme loss of inspiration and support he suffered with the death in 1797 of his friend and publisher Tatsuya, seems to have broken his spirit. Utamaro's final years are not represented by prints of the quality that marks the dazzling designs of the 1780's and 90's.
Signature: Utamaro hitsu
New York. Asia Society. "Undercurrents in the Floating World: Censorship and Japanese Prints," October 9, 1991–January 5, 1992.

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