Kanjo: A Court Lady

Torii Kiyonaga Japanese

Not on view

Kiyonaga's placement of women in outdoor settings paved the way for the landscape prints of the next generation. Here, the soft treatment of a willow tree beside a stream, reminiscent of both Heian poetry and Chinese brush painting, serves as a foil for the sharp, angular line of the figure.

The subject is Ono no Komachi, the Heian poetess, depicted in formal jūni-hitoe, or twelve-layer court costume. The infinitely subtle shades of soft green, orange, pink, and yellow would have signified her aesthetic sensibilities to men who only glimpsed her. But through this print portrays a more modern Komachi, her face is no more expressive than the traditional hikime-kagihana, or "dashes for eyes, hook for nose," of Heian painting. Instead, she is characterized by the cherry blossoms on her robe.

Kanjo: A Court Lady, Torii Kiyonaga (Japanese, 1752–1815), Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan

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