Beauties Enjoying the Breeze with Child Treasures
Edo Period (1600-1868)
15 3/16 x 10 7/16 in. (38.6 x 26.5 cm)
(1787 - 1867)
Medium and Support:
Transfer from the Art Department of the University of Rochester
Location: Not currently on view
Kikukawa Eizan was the most well-known artist of bijin-ga or “prints of beautiful women” in early 19th-century Japan. He also celebrated the beauty of women in their role as mothers. The artist has chosen to depict an unexpected moment as this fashionable mother supports her young son so he may relieve himself. These small, rather unglamorous moments are the fabric of motherhood.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]
This woman's rich blue obi sash with its pattern of gold carp—a symbol of a male child—contrasts oddly with the simple yukata summer robe slipping from her shoulders. She is sitting on the sort of bench provided by outdoor summer tea-stalls set up along the Sumida River, a popular place for Edo city dwellers to enjoy the cool breezes while watching summer displays of fireworks. She holds her small son in a posture suggesting that she is encouraging him to relieve himself, while two adorable puppies romp below; the child is her "treasure," the puppies are his.
The fan at the woman's side sports a corner of the ubiquitous mimasu, or "three nested boxes," crest of the enormously popular kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjûrô. Promotional items such as this fan were linked to celebrity performers and were often sold in shops owned by the actors themselves.
[Gallery label text]