vertical ōban triptych; nishiki-e; bijinga
The title of this print appears in the banner at upper-right of the right panel. All three panels are signed "Utamaro hitsu" ['from the brush of Utamaro'] and each bears the mark of publisher Izumiya Ichibei. In addition, all three panels are sealed with the circular kiwame censor seal and a separate date seal, which indicates the date of approval as the eleventh lunar month of 1807 (Bunka 4). The writing on the buckets in the left and right panels reads "Yamaguchi," the name of the sake maker and purveyor.
In this triptych, the great Utamaro experiments with many different traditional genres of Edo-period woodblock printing, most notably with the form of the bijinga (pictures of beautiful women), for which the artist is best known. In each panel of the triptych, the figures cluster in poses reminiscent of the courtesans of the pleasure district, with their young attendants accompanying them. In the left panel, however, Utamaro has inserted a tōji, a sake maker, imparting a narrative to the scene beyond the delectation of the beautiful women and their exquisite garments. Further, with his inclusion of Mount Fuji in the background, Utamaro evokes the tradition of landscapes and meisho (famous sites) that were increasingly popular, especially in the first half of the nineteenth century. Another witty addition is the fan of the young girl in the central panel, on which we see a kachō (bird and flower) motif, another of Utamaro’s specialties.
domestic space; drinking; furniture; mountains; women; industries; trees; tools; alcohol; kimonos; children; interiors
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