Collection online

mitate-e / painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. Parody of Third Princess from Tale of Genji: woman with long combed-out hair hanging loose down her back, wearing diaphanous gauze robe and wedding ring; cat playing in end of the sash she is winding around her waist. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1890s
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 114.9 centimetres
    • Width: 44.2 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    The many Ukiyo-e paintings showing a cat playing in the skirts of a woman's robes refer to the famous scene in the 'Young Herbs: Part One' ('Wakana jo') chapter of 'Tale of Genji', in which the pet cat belonging to Onna Sannomiya (the Third Princess) escapes out on to the balcony, and Kashiwagi, who is playing court football outside, catches a glimpse of the princess through the gap in the curtain and falls in love with her. Here the woman has clearly just come from her bath, with long combed-out hair hanging loose down her back and wearing a diaphanous gauze robe through which can be seen her breasts and one delicate arm. Since she wears a wedding ring it can be assumed she is a young wife. The cat plays in the end of the 'obi' that she winds around her waist, and Chikanobu has sensitively modulated the ink to give a sense of the sheen on the black silk fabric. The colour scheme is extremely muted, adding to the overall sense of freshness.

    While on the one hand the beauty still has the impassive, idealised features associated with the Ukiyo-e tradition, the very three-dimensional depiction of the voluptuous body beneath the diaphanous robe is new and informed by a much keener sense of anatomical accuracy than in the past (compare, for instance, with no. 25 by Eishun). Though dismissed unfairly as weak and vapid by critics in the past, Meiji-era painters such as Chikanobu were clearly capable - as in this instance - of matching the achievements of many earlier masters and served as an important link between Ukiyo-e and the 'bijin' paintings of later Nihonga masters such as Uemura Shoen (1875-1949).

    The form of the signature is similar to that found on late print series such as 'Shin bijin' (1897).

    '(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 184.Asahi 1996






  • Bibliography

    • Asahi 1996 104 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 178 bibliographic details
    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 184 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Genji monogatari 源氏物語 (Tale of Genji)
    • Associated Title: Wakana jo 若菜上 (Young Herbs: Part One) (chapter)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.

  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1578 (Japanese Painting Number)
Hanging scroll. Girl tying obi. Ink and colours on silk.

Hanging scroll. Girl tying obi. Ink and colours on silk.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF5068

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