Art/ Collection/ Art Object

名取酒六家選 兵庫屋華妻 坂上の剣菱
"Hanazuma of Hyōgoya, Kenbishi of Sakagami” from the series The Peers of Saké Likened to Select Denizens of Six Houses (Natori zake rokkasen: Hyōgoya Hanazuma, Sakagami no Kenbishi)

Artist:
Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, ca. 1754–1806)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
ca. 1794
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
H. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1925
Accession Number:
JP1461
Not on view
This print combines a portrait of a beautiful courtesan with an advertisement for sake to create a witty and iconic image about pleasure. The sake cup, seen on its side at the upper right, bears the name of the series. The tablets at the upper right and left read, respectively, "Kenbishi," the name of the sake brand, and "Hanazuma," the name of the courtesan.

Utamaro pared the composition down to basic elements. The graceful beauty of the image is enhanced by its undulating curves, the lady's attenuated form, and the deeply embossed pattern (karazuri) on her robe. The viewer's interest is piqued by the cropped mirror, one of Utamaro's favorite pictorial motifs. It is left to the imagination to determine what lies beyond the frame and within the mirror's reflection.
Signature: Utamaro hitsu

Marking: Seal: Kiwame–authentic
Nagoya City Museum. "Ukiyo-e from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 14, 1995–May 28, 1995.

London. British Museum. "The Works of Kitagawa Utamero, 1754–1806," August 31, 1995–October 22, 1995.

Chiba City Museum of Art. "The Works of Kitagawa Utamero, 1754–1806," November 3, 1995–December 10, 1995.

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

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