110.0 x 53.0cm image; 209.3 x 69.0 x 75.0cm scroll [height x width x rod]
A classic but bold 'ukiyo-e' image, this beautifully poised figure conveys a mood of solitude and studied introspection which contrasts with the showy and dramatic costume. It is an image that combines, in that uniquely Japanese way, qualities of reticence and flamboyance. The nature of the dress, the small, tightly fitting cap, the theatricality of the pose, all suggest that this is an image of an 'onnagata', or female impersonator of the kabuki theatre. Kabuki developed in Edo Japan in response to a growing demand among the emergent mercantile class for a type of theatre more entertaining and accessible than the long-established classic noh theatre patronised by the upper classes. The Edo authorities sought to control possible abuse and prostitution in the new world of the kabuki by banning women and young boys from participating. Thus there arose a role for female impersonators and the 'onnagata' became a skilled, highly appreciated and sought-after category of actors, known for their subtle and convincing portrayal of every nuance of female demeanour.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 277.
Jackie Menzies (Australia) (Author), The Floating World: Japan's world of transient pleasures, Sydney, 1994, (colour illus.). cat.no. K2
Ewen McDonald (Australia) (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, Sydney, 1994, 224 (colour illus.), 225.
'Japanese Painting', pg. 53-69., Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales 1990, 1990, 63 (colour illus.).
Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation Annual Report 1997 1997, 1997, 13 (colour illus.).
Gary Hickey (Author), Beauty & desire in Edo period Japan, Parkes, 1998, 12 (colour illus.), 14, 70. fig.no. 5
'Beauty and Desire in Edo Period Japan' by Gary Hickey, pg. 4-7., Artonview Winter 1998, Winter 1998, 6 (colour illus.).
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 276 (colour illus.).
Annabel Davie (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, Domain, 1988, 82, 86, 87 (colour illus.).
Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1874) (Author), Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
AJIOKA Chiaki (Japan) (Curator), Heroes and villains: from Japan's floating world, Sydney, May 2001, 7. cat.no. 3.4
'Japanese Figure Painting: From the Public to the Personal' by Jackie Menzies, pg. 114-119., Orientations Sep 2000, Sep 2000, 118 (colour illus.). fig.7
'The Floating World', The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales 2003, 2003, 247 (colour illus.).
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Author), Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 172, 173 (colour illus.), 174 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 174 is a detail of this work.
The Floating World: Japan's World of transient pleasures, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 25 May 1994–17 Jul 1994.
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994.
Beauty and Desire in Edo period Japan, National Gallery of Australia, 06 Jun 1998–09 Aug 1998.
Heroes and Villains, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 19 May 2001–19 Aug 2001.