We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Merrymaking in the Yoshiwara

mid 17th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Title
    Merrymaking in the garden
    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    mid 17th century
    Media categories
    Screen , Painting
    Materials used
    single six-panel screen; colour and gold leaf on paper
    74.0 x 201.4 cm image; 87.2 x 214.4 cm screen
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1986
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    This rare and exquisitely painted screen, full of detail and sensitive observation, illustrates the elite at play in the pleasure quarters. It is an early example of the distinctive 'ukiyo-e' tradition. The term 'ukiyo-e', literally translated as the 'floating world', was originally a Buddhist expression used to describe the sadly irrelevant and transient nature of the material world and our life on earth. By the seventeenth century Japan's medieval samurai-based culture was being superseded by a newly emergent mercantile class. 'Ukiyo-e' came to define a whole tradition inspired by the colourful lives and times enjoyed by these townspeople, 'chônin', in the pleasure quarters and entertainment districts. Here in a series of vignettes, a picture of the pleasure quarters unfolds: the activities of drinking, taking tea, playing games, listening to music, reading and chatting are all illustrated.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 275.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 6 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 8 publications

  • Provenance

    Klaus Naumann, pre Apr 1986, Japan, purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, April 1986.