Monday Morning Muse: Unknown Courtesan

2005-211

This beautiful woodblock print of an ‘unknown courtesan’ joined the collection in 2005. The title of the series to which this print belongs is printed at upper-left in the multicolored cartouche: “A Comparison of Flowers at Night in the Cherry Blossom District.” The “Cherry Blossom District” is a reference to the Yoshiwara, Edo’s famed pleasure district and epicenter of the “Floating World,” the entrance to which was flanked by rows of cherry trees. At lower-right in the red toshidama cartouche is the artist’s signature, which reads “Toyokuni ga” (‘drawn by Toyokuni’). Immediately to the left of the signature is the mark of the woodblock carver, which reads “hori Fuji” (‘carved by Fuji’), followed in the lighter cartouche by the mark of the publisher Moriya Jihei of the firm Kinshindō. The small circular seal to the right of the toshidama cartouche at lower-right is the censor’s date seal, indicating that the print was inspected and approved in the eighth month of 1858.

image source: Unknown Courtesan, from the series “A Comparison of Flowers at Night in the Cherry Blossom District” (‘Hana kurabe kuruwa yo sakura’)

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