The elegant courtesan ('oiran') is shown writing, presumably a poem or witty exchange with a suitor. Beside her are her two assistants and an inkbox with all its contents on the floor. The print belongs to a series comprising over 110 prints, published in the mid 1770s to the early 1780s, each to show a new kimono pattern. Sample patterns for kimono were conventionally printed in the flat kimono shape, but in this series, popular courtesans are dressed in the new patterns. Her robe is decorated with pine needles and a set of the symbols that denote a chapter of the classic 'Tale of Genji'.
The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.249.
An Oiran with two maids
Hinagata wakana-no hatsu moyô: Ôhishi-ya nai Kisakata
Place where the work was made
woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
38.0 x 26.1 cm
Signature & date
Signed l.l., in Japanese, ink [incised on block] "Koryûsai ga [picture by Koryûsai]". Not dated.
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
The Floating World: Japan's World of transient pleasures, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 May 1994–17 Jul 1994
Four Centuries of Ukiyo-e Prints, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 07 May 1997–27 Jul 1997
Beauty and Desire in Edo period Japan, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 06 Jun 1998–09 Aug 1998
Referenced in 5 publications
Gary Hickey, Beauty & desire in Edo period Japan, 'Pleasure Town', pg. 25-36, Parkes, 1998, 30 (colour illus.), 70. fig.no. 24
Verlie Just, Four Centuries of Ukiyo-e Prints, Brisbane, 1997. cat.no. 9
Jackie Menzies, The Floating World: Japan's world of transient pleasures, Sydney, 1994, (illus.). cat.no. C20
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Floating World', Sydney, 2003, 249 (colour illus.).
KUKI Shûzô, Reflections on Japanese taste: the structure of iki, Sydney, 1997, 84 (illus.).