Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: ‘Kurasou’ – Meiji nenkan saikun no fuzoku (A Wife of the Meiji era (1868-1912) Looks Dark)
Series title: Fuzoku Sanjuniso (Thirty-two Aspects of Customs and Manners)
Publisher: Tsunashima Kamekichi
Dimensions: 23.8 x 35.6cm
First edition print.
The saikun of the title is a very polite term for another man’s wife, especially that of a government official. This lady has just woken from an afternoon nap. It is getting dark and she is lighting the twisted paper wick of an oil lamp.
Her somber-coloured gown with its black satin collar has slipped over one shoulder. The way Yoshitoshi has perceived and depicted this, the weight of the cloth falling around the left hand, is masterly.
Her pillow is rumpled and strands of hair have escaped from her coiffure. There is a pipe next to a hibachi (a fire bucket with coals) and a hard pillow to support the cheek or neck can be seen nearby.
This is the only design of the series where the subject is shown in profile rather than three-quarter face, the normal convention in ukiyo-e. The picture is tranquil and captures the quiet of early evening.