Important triptych of polychrome woodblock prints made by the artist Utagawa Kunihisa II (二代目歌川国久). The work, produced in 1862 by the publisher Koshimuraya Heisuke (越村屋平助), features three oiran (花魁) courtesans of the Kinpei Daikoku (金瓶大黒) house of pleasure in the Shin Yoshiwara (新吉原) district. The three women, whose names from left to right are Imamurasaki (今紫), Takamado (高窓) and Azumae (東江), are depicted together with their kamuro (禿) assistants in a small but gorgeous evening parade under the blossoming cherry trees.
In Japanese history and culture the oiran were considered yujo (遊女), or “women of pleasure”, but their social status was very different from that of the ordinary yujo: the oiran were in fact entertainers rather than prostitutes and many of them were so popular that they became celebrities even outside the pleasure districts. Their art led them alongside men of power and their way of dressing was often at the origin of fashions and trends.
The rare prints on Japanese washi paper (和紙), despite evident signs of aging and in particular some small holes and restorations, are in overall good condition.