Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners, Kyowa Era, Beauty Portrait, Ukiyo-e


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Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: ‘Kemusou’ – Kyowa nenkan naishitsu no fuzoku (A Housewife of the Kyowa Era (1801-1804) Looks Smoky)
Series title: Fuzoku Sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners)
Publisher: Tsunashima Kamekichi
Date: 1888
Dimensions: 23.8 x 35.7cm

First edition print.

‘Naishitsu’ means inner chamber and is a polite title for a housewife. This lady manages to remain elegant as she fans a fire, her eyes narrowed against the smoke. She is dressed in a fresh cotton yukata with a hanabishi (flower diamond) pattern. Every hair of her simple hairstyle remains in place.

A decorative symbol on the fan denoting a chapter from the Tale of Genji can be seen through the smoke. The informal uchiwa fan and the light robe suggests that the scene is set inside a house in summertime. The smoldering fire being fanned is probably intended to keep away mosquitoes.

The smoke in particular has been printed skilfully, with graded colours to suggest transparency. The rhythm of curling smoke and the folds of the yukata make this design a very dynamic one.

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