Utamaro Kitagawa, Seated Woman, Beauty, Kiseru Pipe

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Artist: Utamaro I Kitagawa
Title: Seated Woman Holding a Kiseru Pipe and Reading Books
Series: The Seven Traditional Songs of Ono no Komachi
Publisher: Iseya Soemon
Published: circa 1791-1804
Condition report: Backed with margins, discolouration, worn-out bottom left corner, light soiling, some spots.
Size: 36.5 x 26.5 cm (with margins: 39.5 x 27.0 cm)

 

The print shows a courtesan leisurely smoking as she gazes at some verse. Regardless of class or gender, the Edo period saw a democratisation of knowledge, bringing literary culture into the reach of anyone who may have taken an interest. By preserving and familiarising themselves with the Japanese classical literature, the lower classes were able to claim cultural capital.

 

On the kimono of the courtesan, that has embossed detail, rests the publishers seal indicating some sort of relation or possession of this courtesan to the publisher. Utamaro took residence in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters, giving him access to the daily lives of the courtesans that habituated it, and who most likely kept him up to date with current affairs and gossip. As Yoshiwara was akin to a salon for the Edo literati, the pleasure districts were not merely places of sensual enjoyment, but artistic centres offering unique sources of information.

More Information
Artist Name Utamaro I Kitagawa
Title Seated Woman Holding a Kiseru Pipe and Reading Books
Subject Beauty & Female, Kimono Design
Condition Report Backed with margins, discolouration, worn-out bottom left corner, light soiling, some spots.
Dimensions 36.5 x 26.5 cm (with margins: 39.5 x 27.0 cm)
Publisher Iseya Soemon