Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Osen of the Kagiya Teahouse

Artist:
Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
ca. 1769
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Polychrome woodblock print; pillar print (hashira-e); ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
H. 25 7/8 in. (65.7 cm); W. 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1922
Accession Number:
JP1276
Not on view
The narrow rectangular shape of this pillar print creates an arresting image of Osen, the popular waitress of the Kagiya teahouse at the Kasamori Inari Shrine in Edo. The height of the willowy Osen is accentuated by the tall slender post of the torii gate partially visible at right. The pillar, roof, and lantern of the teahouse as well as the footed table of cakes restrict the area of the print even more, while simultaneously identifying the woman portrayed as Osen and enhancing her gracefulness. Written on the lantern are the name of the shop, Kagiya, and Oyasumi dokoro, meaning "rest stop."

This depiction of Osen turning back to look at a cuckoo in flight is not a mere snapshot but a memorable pose of her essential charm and striking appearance. This print presents the beautiful Osen more as a popular icon than as part of a narrative scene.
Signature: Harunobu ga
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Spring and Summer," December 17, 2005–June 4, 2006.

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