Toyokuni II Utagawa, Hashira-e, Beauty


Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Toyokuni II Utagawa (1777–1835)
Title: Beauty
Publisher: Aritaya
Date: early 19th century
Size: 10 x 62 cm
Condition: Top and bottom panels attached. Horizontal creases throughout. Some soiling and discolouration.

In this print, a lady is seen holding the edge of her kimono, slightly revealing the red layers underneath. This action, in addition to exposing her bare feet, creates erotic undertones, subtle yet easily understood by the public of the day.


Hashira-e, or pillar prints, is a narrow print format originally intended for decoration of the supporting pillars in traditional Japanese houses. The prints would have been pasted to the pillars and exposed to the elements of the Japanese household, making those that have survived very rare collectibles. While these more unusual sizes present their own challenges to the printing process, they also allow the artist to be experimental, imaginative, and innovative with the design’s compositional limitations.


Subjects range from the traditional portrayals of bijin (beautiful women), to legendary figures and heroes, to birds and flowers, in a limited space brimming with artistic imagination and expression.

Toyokuni II Utagawa (1777 - 1835)

Pupil and son-in-law of Toyokuni I. After the death of his master in 1825, he called himself Toyokuni II, but was challenged by other followers of Toyokuni and changed his name to Toyoshige. His prints of actors and bijin are in Toyokuni’s manner, but his landscape prints have elements resembling Hokusai and Hiroshige.

More Information
Print FormatHashira-e (Pillar Print)
ArtistToyokuni II Utagawa (1777 - 1835)
SubjectBeauty & Female
Size10 x 62 cm