Dekishima Hanya Seated on a Cherry Tree

Torii Kiyonobu I Japanese

Not on view

Dekishima Hanya was a very popular Kabuki actor of female roles in the beginning of the eighteenth century. Here we see him seated on a cherry tree with his kamon or family crest prominently displayed on his shoulder and hovering above him. Although he is not depicted in the guise of a female character here, he is wearing a lavish woman's kimono. In his day, young men wore women's clothes as a sign of their outre fashion. Following this trend, Dekishima wears an elegant woman's kimono with a floral and rabbit pattern. His right sleeve, however, has slipped off his shoulder to reveal an inner garment with the dynamic design of a large swooping hawk. Kiyonobu skilfully manipulated the images of the rabbit of the outer garment which drapes Dekishima's legs and the hawk on the sleeve of the inner garment to transform the figure's body into the arena of a predator's attack on its prey. It was the compelling force of the "beauty and beast" imagery in prints such as this which, more than a century later, inspired Claude Monet to paint a portrait of his wife in a Japanese kimono embroidered with a ferocious warrior's grimacing face.

The date of this work at the beginning of the eighteenth century is confirmed by the tan-ye technique of pirnt-making which Kiyonobu has used here. This technique is characterized by hand coloring with red lead.

Dekishima Hanya Seated on a Cherry Tree, Torii Kiyonobu I (Japanese, 1664–1729), Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan

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