Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Women Looking in Mirrors

Artist:
Kubo Shunman (Japanese, 1757–1820)
Date:
19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Part of an album of woodblock prints (surimono); ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
8 1/8 x 6 5/8 in. (20.6 x 16.8 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
JP2334
Not on view
This composition is activated by a diagonal line formed by the darting gazes of the two women and the spectator. The standing woman looks at the reflection of her face while she also sees the reflection of the back of her head. Instead of looking at the mirror in her own hand, the seated woman gazes at the standing woman. Does she see her own reflection in the mirror that reflects the standing woman's coiffure? Does the standing woman also see a reflection of the seated lady as well as the back of her head? The seated lady holds a mirror, whose verso bears a family crest with two characters combined into a diphthong. Perhaps this wordplay mimicks the theme of overlap and duality conveyed by the use of three mirrors. The poem translates as; "If you use a mirror which reflects ancient time, that will bring you the flawless virtue of the present emperor."
Signature: Shunman sei (made by) in red
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