Jim Breen's Ukiyo-E Gallery - Utamaro

Jim Breen's Ukiyo-E Gallery - Utamaro

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1808) is regarded as one of the foremost painters of beauty, or the "bijinga" genre. (I recently saw that 1946 classic film "Utamaro and his 5 Women", the title of which is a play on the name of his triptych "Hideyoshi and his 5 Concubines", the publication of which landed him in jail in 1805. The event figures prominently in the film.)

The following are a fine group of typical Utamaro prints.

Simply titled "A Beauty."


O-Kita of Naniwaya, the latter presumably being a tea-house named after the archaic term for the Osaka region.

The three models: O-Hisa, O-Kita and O-Hina. Is this the same O-Kita?(See the note below.)

The prints that follow are not of the same colour quality. I hope one day to get better versions. (Actually, they look much better full-size; the miniatures don't do them justice.)

Given Utamaro's prediliction for depicting courtesans, this print of a mother and baby is a rarity.

Among Utamaro's famous works are the "Ten looks of women's physiognomy", from which this is the "Enjoyable Looks."

Another collection is the "Manners and customs of modern days", from which this is the "Mistress of a Merchant."

And from his "Style of Modern Fashion" is his "Komuraski and Gompachi". Komuraski was a famous courtesan who appeared in several Utamaro prints.

From the late 1790s, "Playing with a Ball."

Simply titled "Love that meets", from ca. 1791.

And lovers having met, we have "Lovers' Silent Talk" from ca. 1798.

The 1799 print of Osome of the Aburaya teahouse.

Note: Re the question I posed above about "Okita", Jaeyeon Lee (Jaeyeon12@aol.com) emailed the following:

"Okita is a teahouse waitress and her teashop was in Asukaga district which is near Shin-yoshiwara which is located in north east side of Edo. She was one of Utamaro's favorite subjects as well as Ohisa. Thus the Q about Okita, is yes!! she is the same Okita that first single figure print. Her crest or emblem is paulownia which is depicted on her fan. And She usually carries her tea cup that is another clue to identify her and actually Utamaro was actually successfully depicted her face as one othe symbol to identify her. In every print she just look exactly alike. If you have chance you should look up Ohisa and Okita's print which is actually printed both side as their front and back. which was printed around 1792 with Kiwame seal on it."