Two Geishas and a Tipsy Client

Kitagawa Utamaro I, Japanese, 1753 - 1806. Published by Tsuruya Kinsuke.

Geography:
Made in Japan, Asia

Period:
Edo Period (1615-1868)

Date:
c. 1805

Medium:
Color woodcut

Dimensions:
Ōban tate-e: 15 1/4 x 10 1/4 inches (38.7 x 26 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1967-30-215

Credit Line:
The Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White Collection, 1967

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In the teeming Japanese capital of Edo (now Tokyo), a city of strict rank and privilege, the Yoshiwara pleasure district was set aside to cater to every class and pocketbook, from swagger merchant to impoverished samurai, providing access to an enchanted realm known as ukiyo, or the "floating world," that centered on rowdy Kabuki theaters, crowded teahouses, and perfumed brothels. Popular woodcuts celebrated the aristocrats of this demimonde in best-selling pinups: fearsome actors in their starring roles and glamorous geishas in the latest fashions. A habitué of the Yoshiwara himself, Kitagawa Utamaro specialized in brothel subjects. By the 1790s he had become the most popular print designer in Japan, with a forceful flowing line that coordinated quirky patterns with graceful gestures, as in this playful depiction of a tipsy young samurai giving a mincing imitation of a geisha's elegant dance steps. John Ittmann, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 225.