Two Women Looking in Mirrors

Kubo Shunman (Japanese, 1757–1820)
19th century
Part of an album of woodblock prints (surimono); ink and color on paper
8 1/8 x 6 5/8 in. (20.6 x 16.8 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
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
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).
Takaoka Art Museum. "Viewpoint of Tadamasa Hayashi: A Bridge between East and West," September 28, 1996–October 27, 1996.

Fukuyama Museum of Art. "Viewpoint of Tadamasa Hayashi: A Bridge between East and West," November 2, 1996–December 1, 1996.

Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki. "Viewpoint of Tadamasa Hayashi: A Bridge between East and West," December 7, 1996–January 26, 1997.