This is a large monochrome print of a courtesan wearing kimono with iris design. The courtesan is standing with her right hand in the sleeve that she raises to her chin and left hand gathering up her kimono; Her cloak with bamboo leaf and gentian flower design is slipping off her shoulder and revealing her dark kimono with iris roundels. She has long hair; her hair is tied and draped on the back. She is looking toward the right side. There is the artist’s signature and seal, and publisher’s seal on the right.
This extravagantly large print is one of a very rare series issued in Edo in the 1710s by the Kaigetsudô School of artists. Perhaps designed as inexpensive substitutes for paintings, Kaigetsudô prints invariably depict courtesans swathed in magnificent bold-patterned robes, against a plain ground. The typical Kaigetsudô courtesan is a full-bodied woman who is both seductive and yet somehow beyond our reach; for all that she is on display, she remains in her own closed-off world of reveries.
(M. Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art, March, 2002)
A color woodblock print of a young woman hanging a paper with poem on a cherry tree. The woman is in a kimono with intricate design of cherry blossom, hemp leaves, birds and swirls, pine trees and diamond patterns. She also wears broad obi (sash) in checkerboard patterns, which is bow- tied on her back. There is also a white sash underneath the obi, which supports her long kimono. Her hair is tied on the back and adorn with tortoise-shell comb and pin. The cherry tree is in full bloom; there is a curtain with a family crest behind the woman and the tree; a certain kind of platform with swirling vine pattern is peaking below the curtain. The overall color scheme is in yellow, orange, black and white (the color of the paper). There are artist’s signature and two seals on the right bottom corner, and smaller seal on the left bottom corner.
During the Edo period, cherry blossom season was one of the few times of year when women of upper class households were permitted to enjoy outdoor amusements. The ladies and their servants would gather under the blossoms to feast on elaborate picnics and play courtly games, all concealed from public view by large curtains. In this print, the artist allows us the voyeuristic pleasure of an unhindered view of a beautiful young woman. From her gorgeous kimono of intricate patterns and expensive tortoise-shell hair accessories, it is clear that she is a daughter of a samurai family. She is shown hanging a poem card (tanzaku) on a tree just outside the curtain—perhaps a love poem intended for someone she expects to pass by.
The verse may be translated as
Once more again in love,
Once more regret--as fleeting
(Adopted from: Maribeth Graybill
“Four Seasons In Japanese Art”: Special Installation of Japanese Gallery at UMMA: Object Labels