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  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1919,1014,0.5

  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. Bijinga. Ofuji handing over handscroll to Okita. Signed, sealed and marked.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1793-1794 (ca.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 37.9 centimetres
    • Width: 24.7 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        image, left
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        哥麿筆
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Utamaro hitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        Picture by Utamaro
      • Inscription Comment

        Without the 'akubi' (yawning) element on right-hand side of the 'Uta' character.
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Comment

        Seal of Wakai Kenzaburo.
      • Inscription Type

        mark
      • Inscription Position

        image, left
      • Inscription Comment

        Mark of the publisher, Tsuruya Kiemon.
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        ふじ
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Fuji
      • Inscription Comment

        Incorporated in design.
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, left
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kiwame
      • Inscription Comment

        Censorship seal.
  • Curator's comments

    Asano and Clark 1995

    From the pattern of ginkgo leaves and the characters "Fuji" on her cotton robe, the women in her middle years on the right must be Ofuji, famous in her youth as the beautiful daughter of the owner of a tooth-brush store, the Moto-Yanagiya in Asakusa and known by the nickname "Miss Ginkgo" (Icho Musume). The young woman on the left, by the paulownia pattern on her collar and the slight hint of a portrait, can be identified as Naniwaya Okita. So the most famous beauty of the Meiwa era (1764-72), frequently depicted in colour prints by Suzuki Harunobu and others, is passing on a handscroll to Okita, the most famous beauty of Utamaro's own day, young enough to be her own daughter. This image seems to have some specific significance and there are several theories as to what this might be. The most generally accepted of these suggests that either she is passing on the secrets of beauty and popularity, or that she is giving the handscroll as a certificate to prove Okita's initiation into being a beauty. It may also be possible to link the image to the custom of giving a daughter who is going off to be married a handscroll of erotic scenes. There are even some critics who interpret it to symbolise the accession of Utamaro to the position of premier artist of images of beautiful women, replacing Suzuki Harunobu of the Meiwa era.

    There is another print which forms a pair with this. In this second design one more beauty from the Meiwa era, Kagiya Osen, passes on a handscroll to Takashima Ohisa, another beauty representing Utamaro's own Kansei (1789-1801) era.

    Literature:
    Shibui, Kiyoshi 渋井清, 'Ukiyo-e zuten, vol. 13: Utamaro' 「ウキヨエ図典13 歌麿」, Kazama Shobo, Tokyo, 1964, pl. 88-1-1.
    "Kitagawa Utamaro sakuhin mokuroku" 「喜多川歌麿作品目録」, 'Ukiyo-e shuka', 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 3 (Bosuton Bijutsukan III ボストン美術館3), Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978, pp. 235-254, pl. 81-1.
    'Ukiyo-e shuka' 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 11, Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978-85, pl. 127.

    Other impressions:
    The Art Institute of Chicago.
    Nelson Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum, Kansas City.
    MOA Museum of Art MOA美術館, Atami.
    Ota Memorial Museum of Art 太田記念美術館, Tokyo.
    Tokyo National Museum東京国立博物館.

    [Main text translated in Japanese below / 以下上記本文日本語訳]

    浅野/クラーク、1995

    右側の中年の女性は、着衣の銀杏の模様と「ふじ」の文字により、浅草の楊枝店本柳屋の娘お藤(銀杏娘と呼ばれた)、左側の若い娘は、襟の桐の模様と似顔より難波屋おきたと判明している。鈴木晴信の錦絵などで知られる明和期(1764~
    72)の代表的美人のお藤から、丁度親子ほど年が離れている当世の代表的美人であるおきたへ巻物を伝授するという何やら意味ありげな図様であるため、いくつかの解釈が提示されている。その代表的なものは、美しさと人気の秘訣を伝えたというもの、美人の免許皆伝の証として巻物を与えたというものである。嫁ぐ娘に春画巻を与える習慣を踏まえていると解することも可能であろうし、明和期の鈴木晴信から、寛政期の歌麿に美人絵師の第1人者の地位を譲り渡す象徴的な意味が込められているとする人もいる。

    この図には対になる作品がある。やはり明和期の代表的美人である鍵屋お仙から、寛政期のもう1人の代表的美人である高島おひさに巻物を渡している図である。

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Asano & Clark 1995 109 bibliographic details
    • Ukiyo-e shuka Vol 11 127 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1919

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1919,1014,0.5

Colour woodblock print. Bijinga. Ofuji handing over handscroll to Okita. Nishiki-e on paper. Signed, sealed and marked.

Recto

Colour woodblock print. Bijinga. Ofuji handing over handscroll to Okita. Nishiki-e on paper. Signed, sealed and marked.

Image description

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