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A courtesan wearing a robe decorated with actors' crests
伝鳥居清信筆 役者紋模様の立美人
Date: approx. 1715
Object Name: Woodblock print (sumizuri-e)
Materials: Ink on paper
Dimensions: H. 22 3/4 in x W. 12 1/2 in, H. 57.8 cm x W. 31.7 cm (ō-ōban)
Credit Line: Gift of the Grabhorn Ukiyo-e Collection
Department: Japanese Art
Collection: Prints And Drawings
Object Number: 2005.100.2
On Display: No

Description

Label:

This unsigned print of a statuesque beauty presents several problems of identification. Linked stylistically to Torii Kiyonobu I, it features the sweeping calligraphic outlines and bold decorative patterns characteristic of works created around 1715. The woman’s front-tied obi tell us that she is a courtesan, and we can surmise that she is a fan of Kabuki theater, as actors’ crests fill the beanshaped reserves on her garment, a kosode or robe with narrow sleeve openings. Several of the crests refer to known players of the time; for example, the triple-gingko-leaf crest of actor Matsumoto Kōshirō I occupies a prominent position on one sleeve, and the leaf and comma-swirl (tomoe) crest associated with Yamanaka Heikurō I is shown at her knee, but others are less readily identifiable. More puzzling is the isolated paulownia crest on her shoulder and hairpin. This could be interpreted as the courtesan’s personal crest, but it also raises another possibility—that the person portrayed might in fact be an onnagata, a Kabuki actor playing a female character in a play. An example of this kind — an actor dressed as a courtesan, with his own crest on hairpin and sleeve — is Torii Kiyomasu I’s portrait of Fujimura Handayū as Ōiso Tora, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection (54.216).


More Information

Signature/Seal: Unsigned; no publisher's seal

Collectors’ seals: 白爾叟 Hakujisō or Berusō? (verso)

Exhibition History: “The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection”, Asian Art Museum, 2/20/15-5/10/15
Label:

This unsigned print of a statuesque beauty presents several problems of identification. Linked stylistically to Torii Kiyonobu I, it features the sweeping calligraphic outlines and bold decorative patterns characteristic of works created around 1715. The woman’s front-tied obi tell us that she is a courtesan, and we can surmise that she is a fan of Kabuki theater, as actors’ crests fill the beanshaped reserves on her garment, a kosode or robe with narrow sleeve openings. Several of the crests refer to known players of the time; for example, the triple-gingko-leaf crest of actor Matsumoto Kōshirō I occupies a prominent position on one sleeve, and the leaf and comma-swirl (tomoe) crest associated with Yamanaka Heikurō I is shown at her knee, but others are less readily identifiable. More puzzling is the isolated paulownia crest on her shoulder and hairpin. This could be interpreted as the courtesan’s personal crest, but it also raises another possibility—that the person portrayed might in fact be an onnagata, a Kabuki actor playing a female character in a play. An example of this kind — an actor dressed as a courtesan, with his own crest on hairpin and sleeve — is Torii Kiyomasu I’s portrait of Fujimura Handayū as Ōiso Tora, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection (54.216).


Signature/Seal: Unsigned; no publisher's seal

Collectors’ seals: 白爾叟 Hakujisō or Berusō? (verso)

Exhibition History: “The Printer’s Eye: Ukiyo-e from the Grabhorn Collection”, Asian Art Museum, 2/20/15-5/10/15