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Utamaro (1753) (1753 - 1806)

Lot 9: Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806)


September 16, 2003
New York, NY, US

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Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806) Nine prints from the series Joshoku kaiko tewazagusa (Women engaged in the sericulture industry), comprising "Tending the newly hatched worms, no.1," depicting a woman with a feather brushing worms from incubation paper, two women looking on; "Picking mulberry leaves, no. 2," depicting a woman on a ladder and another on a stand picking leaves, another gathering leaves in a basket; "Feeding the silkworms, no. 3," depicting a girl dicing leaves, two others feeding worms on trays; "Stirring the silkworms, no. 4," depicting a girl stirring silkworms in a tray, a girl with empty trays, another with a full tray; "The great awakening of the silkworms, no. 5," depicting three girls tearing leaves from branches, another arriving with fresh branches; "The cocoon stage, no. 6," depicting a girl arranging cocoons on a tray, a girl with a full tray, another watching; "Winding the thread, no. 9," depicting a woman winding thread from cocoons in a pan of boiling water, two others watching; "Stretching the silk floss, no. 10," depicting two women stretching silk floss by twisting it around wooden posts, another hanging silk in skeins; "Spinning the silk, no. 11," depicting a seated woman spinning silk on a loom, another standing, all signed Utamaro hitsu and published by Tsuruya Kiemon--good impressions, slightly faded, restorations, pin hole worming oban tate-e : 38.2 x 25.2cm., each approx. (9)

Artist or Maker

Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806)


These are genre scenes showing the stages of sericulture, traditionally women's work. It is a series of twelve designs, each sheet individually numbered from one to twelve, which in fact form a complete twelve-sheet composition. According to Asano Shugo and Timothy Clark, who discuss this set in Kitagawa Utamaro/The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro (Tokyo and London: Asahi Shimbunsha and Trustees of the British Museum, 1995), p. 204, the color scheme emphasizes purple (and avoids red) in the so-called "purple picture" ( murasaki-e ) manner. The text, written within cloud-shaped borders at the top of each print, is taken verbatim from the series of twelve chuban prints designed by Katsukawa Shunsho and Kitao Shigemasa c. 1772, Kaiko yashinaigusa (Cultivation of silkworms) (see lot 3). The illustrations, on the other hand, are not copied so closely. Other impressions of the complete set are held in the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Bruxelles; The Art Institute of Chicago; Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison. The three prints that complete this set of twelve, nos. 7, 8 and 12, were sold in these Rooms, 22 March 2001, lot 20.

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Japanese and Korean Art

September 16, 2003, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US