Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Courtesan with a pillow, a hanging scroll painting

Japan
Edo period, around AD 1865-70

Painting of a beauty from the end of the Edo period

In this strongly sensual painting by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-92), a courtesan is shown undressing. Her flushed face is framed with a few stray strands of hair. As she undresses, she turns, probably to look at her client. She has already removed her vivid scarlet crepe silk sash, and is drawing her arm from her right sleeve, while in her left hand she holds a head-rest and pillow.

This mood of sexual excitement is visually enhanced by the pattern of dancing blue dots of her tie-dyed kimono against the dizzy black diamond weave of the sleeping mat. These in turn contrast with the unblemished skin of her face and partially revealed bosom. The woman's hooked nose and angular jutting jaw and chin are characteristic of faces painted by Utagawa school artists including Yoshitoshi's teacher, Kuniyoshi.

The signature reads 'Yoshitoshi hitsu' ('the brush of Yoshitoshi'). The seal reads 'Yoshitoshi no in'.

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More information

Bibliography

L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

T. Clark, Ukiyo-e paintings in the Briti (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

M. Narasaki (ed.), Hizō Ukiyo-e taikan, vol. 1 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987)

Dimensions

Height: 37.750 inches
Width: 11.750 inches

Museum number

Asia JA JP 1588 (1881.12-10.01754)

JCF1460

William Anderson Collection

Location

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