THE RANK OF A LADY (Kitagawa Utamaro)

N.1 abuna-e woodblock print
Year: 1803 ca.
Condition: signs of aging
Size: 15 x 20,5 cm



Refined okubi-e (大首絵) portrait made around 1803 by the famous artist Kitagawa Utamaro (喜多川歌麿) and depicting a young courtesan, apparently pensive, holding a sleeve of her kimono (着物) up to her face. The inscription visible at the top right reads: «The face of a lady of pleasure determines her rank» (契情者面相ニ作ル位ヲ).

The print is the frontispiece of vol. 3 (下) of the shunpon (春本) “Ehon warai jogo” (絵本笑上戸), literally “Picture Book: The Laughing Drinker”, perhaps the last of Utamaro’s colour-printed erotic books, also famous for the preface in which his fictive wife addresses the publisher by means of a letter written during the absence of her husband.

The rare print on Japanese washi paper (和紙) shows evident signs of aging and imperfections, especially on the margins.