Utagawa Sadakage (歌川貞景) (artist )

A Collection of Beautiful Women: The Pride of Edo — 江戸自慢美人揃


ca 1830
30 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) color woodblock

Signed: Gokotei Sadakage ga - on the right and middle panels
Signed: Sadakage ga - on the left panel
Publisher: Tsuruya Kiemon (Marks 553 - seal 22-066)
Censor seal: kiwame
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Keio University

Three Edo beauties relaxing; one feeding her child, one adjusting her coiffure and one holding a very comfortable pet cat which is lying on a volume of 'The Tale of Genji'. This series of massive figure compositions were among the most dramatic bijinga designs of the early 19th century.

The series is extremely rare and is seldom if ever to be found with fine matching colors as here.

The woman on the left is the only one who has blackened her teeth, a fashion statement. The child she is breast feeding is wearing a kimono decorated with blue and 'gold' bats, a propitious symbol. She is supporting him with her left hand while holding his toy, a kind of rattle, with her right. Behind her, outside the screen is a pot holding a fukujusō or Adonis flower that is a symbol of the New Year or golden riches. There is also a flowering prunus, a symbol of spring. Irises also appear on the right-hand panel, another flower which blooms early in the year. Are they real or are they painted on a screen. We aren't sure. The woman with the cat on the right is wearing what appears to be a black obi decorated with a waterwheel with waves. Because of the black ground it appears to look somewhat like a star chart before a more careful examination.
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
Tsuruya Kiemon (鶴屋喜右衛門) (publisher)
boshi-e (母子絵) (genre)