Dance Teacher (<i>Odori shishō</i> - 踊師匠) from the series <i>A Collection of Modern Beauties</i> (<i>Tōsei bijin awase</i> - 当世美人合)

Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)

Dance Teacher (Odori shishō - 踊師匠) from the series A Collection of Modern Beauties (Tōsei bijin awase - 当世美人合)


ca 1827
10 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Publisher: Moritaya Hanzō (Marks 352 - seal 23-026)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Lyon Collection - another copy of this print
Ritsumeikan University
National Diet Library
Lyon Collection - 'A Geisha in her dressing room' - another print from this series
Lyon Collection - 'The Dance Teacher' - another copy of this print
Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden) via Ritsumeikan University

Sebastian Izzard wrote in his Kunisada's World on page 105: "Seated in front of a candle-lit makeup mirror, the young dancing girl... prepares for a performance by applying rouge to her eyelids to make her eyes appear larger. She wears the hairstyle typical of a kamuro or trainee courtesan, with elaborate floral sprays, combs and silk cords. The girl is dressed in a red and white kimono decorated with a pattern of autumn grasses; the collar and lining have a lotus-root design. Her red under-robe has a striped collar. In the shaped vignette above are her accourtrements: a pair of clappers for keeping the rhythm, a wig-stand, the libretto of a song and a porcelain cup with a lacquered cover. The cover is decorated with the artist's toshidama seals.

The composition, although crowded, in full of realistic detail - for example, the distortion of the girls eyelid caused by her finger. Interesting touches are added by the porcelain bowl with a bat design and by a towel decorated with the crest of Danjūrō VII."


"Ten prints from this series of half-length portraits of beauties are known. Five sheets are signed with the name Kōchōrō Kunisada... while the other five have Gototei Kunisada... His toshidama seal frames the series title cartouche and the print title is contained within a stylised 'decayed tree branch' (kuchiki) design."

Quoted from: Kunisada: imaging drama and beauty by Robert Schaap, p. 55.


The black and white title cartouche in the upper right is in the form of a stylized 'decayed tree branch' or kuchiki (朽木).


Illustrated in:

1) 歌川国貞:美人画を中心に, (Utagawa Kunisada : bijinga o chūshin ni), 1996, #88, p. 58.

2) Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty by Robert Schaap, et al., #23.

Moritaya Hanzō (森田屋半蔵) (publisher)
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
bats (komori - 蝙蝠) (genre)