Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni II (二代目歌川豊国)

Print: Aizuri-e of a bijin reaching up to grab a branch of a flowering cherry tree, from the series Beauties of the Latest Fashion Compared with the Beauty of Flowers (Tōsei bijin hana-awase - 當世美人花合)

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Dates: circa 1825 - 1829,created
Dimensions: 10.25 in,15.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga
Publisher: Shimizu (Marks U283 - seal 16-079)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Brooklyn Museum; National Gallery of Victoria; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Lyon Collection - another example from this series;

Physical description:

The title cartouche is prominently displayed near the top right of this print. It is in the form of a bat with its wings spread. The bat is interesting in that traditionally it often served as a symbol of happiness in east Asia - more so in China than in Japan, but not exclusively in China. Another curiosity is the use of butterflies on the woman's kimono. The butterfly is often used as a symbol of deceased souls. At the bottom of her robe is one dragonfly, a symbol of both Japan and more specifically the perseverance of the samurai.

The four examples from this series in the National Gallery of Victoria all focus on a different flowering group: the others are the plum, the bell flower and the chrysanthemum.