VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Scroll painting
RMV 1-1162
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

When viewing this painting, we can only conclude that Utagawa Kunihisa, the female painter, managed most successfully. The dark-rimmed umbrella adds a wonderful compositional balance. Prof. Matthi Forrer, curator Japanese arts, Leiden.

History of the Object
This painting on silk of a parading courtesan in the snow must have taken months to complete. The high-class courtesan is wearing a brown overkimono, with its lower part decorated with snow-laden pines. Her red kimono is decorated with fans on a stippled sea-star pattern, each of them featuring flowers. The wide sash which serves to tie the kimono on the front, has a pattern of curled dragons. Utmost care was given to the white-powdered face and the elaborate hairdo. After all from this painstaking work, we can easily imagine the tension of the painter when the final touch had to be made: apply the snowflakes in white paint by splashing these onto the almost finished painting. Too much of this heavy pigment, made of ground shell, would no doubt ruin the painting. And yet, its application by splashing is hard to control. This painting was most likely purchased during the 1826 court journey in which Siebold partook.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Silk; ink; and pigments 
Measurements
Width 42,4 cm. Length 102,5 cm.  
Creator name
Utagawa Kunihisa 
Creator date
19th century (early) 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 1805 - 1815 
Function
 
Acquisition
Collected by Philip Franz von Siebold between 1823 and 1829. Acquired by the National Museum of Ethnology in 1837. Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) was a medical doctor by training who entered into the service of the Royal Dutch-Indies Army. He was sent to Japan for colonial business, where he stayed from 1823 to 1829, ending his career as accused of espionage and banned from the country for possessing secret maps. In addition to his collections of plants and objects of natural history, he also made a collection of products of Japanese industry which he managed to sell to King William I after his return to Holland in 1831. The collection was stored and exhibited at the National Museum of Ethnography in Leiden (see: “History of the Institution”). Over the years many objects were added to the Von Siebold collection by its respective administrators and the number of objects increased to some 34,000. In 2005 some 700 important objects of the Von Siebold Collection were moved to the completely restored house in Leiden where von Siebold originally lived. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, the Netherlands 
Museum
National Museum of Ethnology, Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde 
Credit line
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden, the Netherlands 

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