Okumura Masanobu, Two geisha and a boy carrying a shamisen case, a woodblock print
Edo period, AD 1756
Omou shibai e
(First tune of the year; / Stealing off to the theatre we adore; / Mute on the shamisen!)
Early colour prints of the 1740s and 1750s used very few colours. This one has only red and green, with white and the usual black outlines. However, the striking kimono designs - waves and plum blossom on the right and seasonal flower motifs scattered across a black and white chequered background on the left - produce a gloriously rich effect.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)
M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)
L. Smith (ed.), Ukiyo-e images of unknown Japa (London, The British Museum Press, 1988/89)