Kuniteru II Utagawa, The Picture of Tea House Shinagawa-ya, Courtesans


Artist: Kuniteru II Utagawa (1830-1874)
Title: The Picture of Tea House Shinagawa-ya
Publisher: Yorozuya Magohei
Date: 1875
Size: (L)35.6 x 23.7 (C)35.8 x 23.5 (R)35.5 x 23.6 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Courtesans were not only skilled in serving a male customer, but they were also experts in dance, music, conversation, and other kinds of entertainment. They operated within the licensed quarters, such as the Yoshiwara district. They had a complex system of ranks, etiquette, and procedures. A courtesan would earn her funds not only for herself, but also for her entire entourage, e.g. attendants, younger courtesans-in-training.

The print shows a group of courtesans at a tea house, playing music in a lavish setting. They have hairstyles done in an elaborate manner with large hairpins called kanzashi. These were often made from tortoiseshell, silver, gold and gemstones, worn in a number of heavily-waxed hairstyles. Their kimono have a wealth of patterns and auspicious motifs. Many courtesans became celebrities both inside and outside of the pleasure quarters and were highly regarded fashion icons.

Kuniteru (Kunitsuna) II Utagawa

A pupil of Kunisada, Kuniteru II depicted the manners and sights of the late Tokugawa and early Meiji ages, particularly the early industrial scenes.

More Information
Print FormatTriptych
ArtistKuniteru (Kunitsuna) II Utagawa
SubjectBeauty & Female, Kimono Design
Dimensions(L)35.6 x 23.7 (C)35.8 x 23.5 (R)35.5 x 23.6 cm
Condition ReportWear and soiling, hole, slightly trimming, paper residue.