Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Ladies, Each with a Portion of a Lacquered Mirror

Artist:
Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, ca. 1754–1806)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
1790s
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
H. 18 5/8 in. (47.3 cm); W. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
JP1673
Not on view
Utamaro selectively used reflection to reinforce narrative and to emphasize themes. In this print, a standing woman holds up a mirror to a seated woman. Ironically, Utamaro chose to show the standing woman's reflection in the lacquered back of the mirror rather than the seated woman's in the mirror itself. The image involves a dual relationship: two women hold halves of the same object and perform a similar action. Their mimicking of each other duplicates the role of the mirror, which Utamaro placed between them as a communicative device.
Signature: Utamaro hitsu
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).
Nagoya City Museum. "Ukiyo-e from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 14, 1995–May 28, 1995.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: Two Decades of Collecting Japanese Art," 2007.

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