- Museum number
Object: Mare ni au koi 稀ニ逢恋 (Love that Rarely Meets)
Series: Kasen koi no bu 歌撰恋之部 (Anthology of Poems: The Love Section)
Colour woodblock print. Bijinga. Bust of young woman. Nishiki-e on paper with tinted powdered mica ground. Inscribed, signed and marked.
- Production date
- 1793-1794 (c.)
Height: 38.50 centimetres (image)
Height: 56 centimetres (mount)
Width: 25.20 centimetres (image)
Width: 40.80 centimetres (mount)
- Curator's comments
In his series Anthology of Poems: The Love Section (Kasen koi no bu), Utamaro represented individual women as though consumed by their emotions. Like the physiognomy series (Clark et al 2013, cat. 50), these pictures are constructed to suggest Utamaro’s direct study of individuals. With the upper torso and face occupying the central section of the image, this compositional type became known in time as ‘large-head pictures’, or o - kubi-e. However, like his ‘physiognomic’ pictures, these are not in fact observed portraits but are designed to represent conceptual typologies – the states of love – as exemplified by a woman of a recognizable social status. Here the Utamaro template for beauty is adapted to show this figure as representative of a conceptual category.
In ‘Love that rarely meets’ (Mare ni au koi) a young woman lifts her hand and gestures to another person from under the cover of her sleeve. Her hair is perfectly coiffured in the latest style, with double pins decorated by an ivy leaf and a large tortoiseshell comb, and her robes are arranged to show two layers with patterns against a muted outer robe. She is clearly the prized daughter from a prosperous merchant household – perhaps even of a type called the ‘daughter-in-a-box’, known for being both coddled and naïve. She is a correlate to an image of the ‘fresh opening’, or shinkai, type included in Utamaro’s erotic book Ehon warai jo-go (Picture Book: The Laughing Drinker), that shows a merchant daughter as yet little experienced in the ways of love and sex (Clark et al 2013, cat. nos. 4, 52). Both print and book are exceptional displays of Utamaro’s skill in rendering the female form and in representing nuances of social distinction, as well as of the remarkable achievements of Edo’s blockcarvers and printers. [JD]
A young woman who rarely meets her lover, from the series 'Six Selected Types of Love'. The title of the series punningly refers to Utamaro's name and to the six classical poets of the ninth century. The print is signed 'The brush of Utamaro'.
Asano and Clark 1995
The adolescent girl still has a touch of naivety about her and the title suggests that she can only meet her lover on rare occasions.
A later printing is known without the title.
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. 48-2-1.
‘Ukiyo-e taikei’「浮世絵大系」, gen. ed. Goto, Shigeki, vol. 5, Shueisha, Tokyo, 1976, black and white pl. 141.
"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. 29-5.
'Ukiyo-e shuka' 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 3, Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978-85, pl. 44.
Smith, Lawrence, ed., ‘Ukiyoe: Images of Unknown Japan’, BMP, London, 1988, no. 91.
‘Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan’「秘蔵浮世絵大観」, gen. ed. Narazaki, Muneshige, vol. 2, Kodansha, Tokyo, 1987-90, pl. 164.
‘Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e’ 「名品揃物浮世絵」, gen. ed. Narazaki, Muneshige, vol. 3, Gyosei, Tokyo, 1991-2, pl. 11.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Edwin & Irma Grabhorn Collection.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (without title).
[Main text translated in Japanese below / 以下上記本文日本語訳]
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2019-2020 19 Nov-19 Jan, Edo-Tokyo Museum, Japan, Masters of Ukiyo-e: Five Favorite Artists of Edo Japan
2001 30 Jan-8 Apr, London, BM, Japanese Galleries, 'Arts of Japan: Recently repaired paintings, Ukiyo-e IV'
2010 22 Sep-14 Nov, Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, 'Kitagawa Utamaro'
2011 14 Feb-13 Jun, London, BM, Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
2013 3 Oct - 2014 5 Jan, London, BM, Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art, 1600-1900
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: B16