Collection online

Fujin sogaku jittai 婦人相学拾躰 (Ten Types in the Physiognomic Study of Women)

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1906,1220,0.328

  • Title (series)

    • Fujin sogaku jittai 婦人相学拾躰 (Ten Types in the Physiognomic Study of Women)
  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. One composition of ten designs. Woman with hair wrapped in towel, grinding hand-mill and laughing. Inscribed, signed and marked.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1802-1803 (ca.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 36.8 centimetres
    • Width: 24.4 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        image, top right, in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        婦人相学拾躰
        此相いたつておとなしきうまれつきにて 人さうよく万事かいがいしき事娘にまれなり
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Fujin sogaku juttai.
        Kono so ittate otonashiki umaretsuki nite, ninso yoku banji kaigaishiki koto, musume ni mare nari.
      • Inscription Translation

        Ten Types in the Physiognomic Study of Women.
        This is a very quiet type by nature. Her physiognomy is good and she is diligent in all things; something rare in a young woman.
      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        image, top right, in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        観相歌麿
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kanso Utamaro
      • Inscription Translation

        Utamaro the physiognomist
      • Inscription Comment

        With the 'akubi' (yawning) element on right-hand side of the 'Uta' character.
      • Inscription Type

        mark
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        ˆ籐
      • Inscription Comment

        Mark of the publisher, Yamashiroya Toemon.
  • Curator's comments

    Asano and Clark 1995

    While grinding a hand-mill the woman notices something that makes her laugh.

    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. 65-1-3.
    ‘Ukiyo-e taikei’「浮世絵大系」, gen. ed. Goto, Shigeki, vol. 6, Shueisha, Tokyo, 1976, black and white fig. 81.
    "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. 326-3.
    'Ukiyo-e shuka' 「浮世絵聚花」, vol. 11, Shogakkan, Tokyo, 1978-85, pl. 49.
    ‘Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e’ 「名品揃物浮世絵」, gen. ed. Narazaki, Muneshige, vol. 4, Gyosei, Tokyo, 1991-2, pl. 20.

    Other impressions:
    MOA Museum of Art MOA美術館, Atami.

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

    浅野/クラーク 1995

    臼を曳きながら、何かを見て笑っている。Kitagawa Utamaro was known in his own time – as he is now – for his ‘pictures of beautiful women’ (bijinga). Utamaro’s career as a specialist in this genre was forged in collaboration with publisher Tsutaya Ju-zaburo- (1750–97), and these pictures were part of an ongoing social fascination for appraising, classifying and marketing ‘beauty’. In 1792–3 Tsutaya published this print by Utamaro, in a group intended to be a set of ten studies on female physiognomies. Subtitled ‘Uwaki no so-’, this picture describes the figure as, literally, the ‘light-hearted’, or ‘fancy-free’ type. Using the term ‘physiognomy’ referred to period practices of discerning personality and destiny through a close analysis of facial features, ‘reading’ them, according to period manuals for the pseudo-science. The text thus describes this image as a study of an individual classified by physiognomy as a ‘type’. Shown in mid-action, as though she is turning to speak to an associate, the woman seems to have been drawn as though she might have been seen by Utamaro himself. The mica-printed background enhances the contours of the figure while at the same time alluding to the idea of a mirror or a silver leafcovered standing screen. However, comparison with period literature demonstrates that Utamaro was not basing his design upon direct observation, but referring to another set of social and sexual classifications. The posture and gesture of the ‘fancy-free type’ matches the design of an unlicensed prostitute disguised as a dancer (odoriko) illustrated in a book by Santo- Kyo-den, published by Tsutaya in 1786. ‘Physiognomic’ study, too, alluded to an erotic book, Ehon hime hajime (Picture Book: First-Time Princesses) of 1790, by Utamaro and Katsukawa Shuncho - , in which facial types were ‘matched’ to physiological qualities of the sexual organs (see also Shunga, cat. 52). Discerning viewers of his time likely would have recognized these sources as the real ‘physiognomic’ meaning of the image. [JD]

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Asano & Clark 1995 408 bibliographic details
    • Ukiyo-e shuka Vol 11 49 bibliographic details
    • Binyon 1916 56 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1906

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1906,1220,0.328

  • Additional IDs

    • B56
Colour woodblock print. One composition of ten designs. Woman with hair wrapped in towel, grinding hand-mill and laughing. Nishiki-e on paper. Inscribed, signed and marked.

Recto

Colour woodblock print. One composition of ten designs. Woman with hair wrapped in towel, grinding hand-mill and laughing. Nishiki-e on paper. Inscribed, signed and marked.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: JCF3065

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...