Two Ladies, Each with a Portion of a Lacquered Mirror
Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, 1753?–1806)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H. 18 5/8 in. (47.3 cm); W. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
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.