- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Courtesan looking down at young attendant wearing cloth cap; another attendant almost hidden behind courtesan. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 120 centimetres
Width: 56.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Courtesans' fashions of the late Edo period grew evermore extravagant. In order to walk in the high lacquer clogs she wears here the woman had to perform a slow, waddling 'figure of eight' ('hachimonji') manoeuvre, lifting each foot out and round to the side before placing it down, and this became a feature of courtesans' processions in the quarter. The robes are very sumptuous, with a design of dragons coiling amid storm clouds and lightning over the sea on the 'uchikake', in life, one suspects, painted directly in ink on the fabric. An amusing contrast is drawn between the courtesan looking down kindly at the little 'kamuro' attendant wearing the cloth cap and the principal dragon on the courtesan's robe glowering down fiercely at the smaller dragon on the attendant's robe. Also the claws of this creature are painted where one would expect to find the girl's hand, while on the sleeve of the second attendant, almost hidden behind the courtesan, is the tail of another dragon equally hard to spot. The courtesan's wide gold sash tied floridly at the front has yet more stylised dragons woven in blue-green into the brocade.
In this and the few other scrolls by Kuniaki so far published he gives evidence of considerable technical skill and should be considered on a par with other major pupils of Kunisada such as Kunichika (1835-1900). Though the composition is presumably learnt from his teacher, there is a particular expression about the face - a kind of wide-eyed surprise - that is uniquely Kuniaki's own.
Anderson, William, 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1755.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 63.
'Signed Toyo-kuni's pupil, Ichi-kō-sai Kuni-aki.' (unattributed annotation in the specially interleaved Japanese Study Room copy of Anderson 1886)
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1590 (Japanese Painting Number)