VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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The Japanese lady playing on a koto instrument
MT-DW-223
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The picture presents a scene with two women: a lady and her servant. On the first plan there is the lady who kneels in front of the koto instrument. Behind her on the right side there is a lady’s servant holding a tray with a small bowl of rice. On the left side, behind the lady, there is a small table with different objects. The lady wears a kimono decorated with motives of cranes and clouds. Her hair is formed in shimada style decorated with long pins. The servant’s hair-cut is shorter and formed on top of the head in two loops. The colours of the woodcut are delicate with superiority of fade pinks, browns and olive greenery.

History of the Object
Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825) was a great master of the woodblock print, known in particular for his actor prints. He was one of the heads of the renowned Utagawa school of Japanese woodblock artists. He was born in Edo, the son of Kurohashi Gorobei, a carver of dolls and puppets, including replicas of Kabuki actors. Toyokuni seems to have studied intently those who came before him, particularly Utamaro. He was known mostly for his prints related to the Kabuki Theatre, in particular his actor portraits, a field which he took to new heights, although he also produced bijin-ga. From 1803 through 1817, his work became more static, even as it became more popular. He continued to produce large quantities of prints, but the quality as a rule did not match that of his earlier days, although occasional prints from this period show his old brilliance.

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Type
Print 
Materials
Woodcut nishiki-e, paper, colors 
Measurements
37,7x25,3 cm 
Creator name
Utagawa Toyokuni I , editor Yamashiro-ya Shokakudo 
Creator date
1769-1825? 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
18th Century - 19th Century; Edo period 
Function
Artwork 
Acquisition
This is a gift from the Polish collector, Tadeusz Wierzejski (1892 – 1974) who handed down this print to the museum in 1966. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
District Museum, Torun 
Museum
District Museum, Torun 
Credit line
 

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