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Asian art

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(Three women)

late 18th century-early 19th century


Kiyonaga Torii


1752 - 1815


'Kiyonaga is known as one of the masters during the so-called 'golden age' of 'ukiyo-e' alongside Utagawa Toyokuni and Kitagawa Utamaro at the end of the 18th century.

As well as 'ôban' size and larger multi-sheet prints, Kiyonaga produced a number of book illustrations, to which this block seems to belong. Although signatures do not usually appear in book illustrations, the last illustration in a book sometimes contains a signature (Timothy Clark, June 2002).

The lines in this block are stiffer than those in Kiyanaga's single prints, perhaps due to the nature of the product and its market; they are also cut more deeply than those in the Moroshige block (Accession no. 220.2002), which may relate to the different levels of the blockcutter's and the printer's skills. It was a common practice that different blockcutters were involved in the production of a block - a master blockcutter would cut the fine lines such as the face, hand and so on while less skilled ones would do the rest. This block may well be an example of such a division of labour, as the less fluid lines of the garment, particularly those of the woman on the left, appear at odds with the fine lines of the head with its delicate hairline.'

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, A&L Report, 13 August 2002.


Place where the work was made



late 18th century-early 19th century

Materials used

carved wood


15.8 x 11.3 x 1.5 cm; 15.8 x 11.3 x 2.5 cm keyblock and base

Signature & date

Signed l.r corner, in Japanese, incised in reverse "Kiyonaga ga [picture by Kiyonaga]". Not dated.


Purchased 2002


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Kiyonaga Torii

Works in the collection



Where the work was made