Courtesan and Attendants

Courtesan and Attendants

c. 1748-1751

attributed to Engetsudo

(Japanese)

Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper

Overall: 189.8 x 64.8 cm (74 3/4 x 25 1/2 in.); Painting only: 90.2 x 43.8 cm (35 1/2 x 17 1/4 in.)

The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith 1985.255

Description

The courtesan wears a pair of tall, lacquered wooden clogs
and heavy robes, indicating it is winter. The elaborate span of
her tortoiseshell comb in her fashionable coiffure enhances
her glamorous appearance. Her blue-and-white striped obi is
tied in a loose bow in front, typical for a her profession. The
round, stylized cherry blossom crest of her "house" (brothel),
partially visible on her shoulder just above the shawl, also
appears on the robes of her two attendants (kamuro). The
attendants hold shuttlecocks, used in a game associated with
New Year’s. One girl stares out at the viewer; the other looks
back. The frontal view of the attendant’s face is somewhat
unique in ukiyo-e painting and prints.

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