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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Bijin playing with cat

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Dates: circa 1822,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
五渡亭国貞画
Publisher: Iseya Rihei (Marks 152 - seal 01-122)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art - a variant printing; Keio University Library - another example to the one in the MFA, but inked differently;

Physical description:

A young woman leans forward to play with a pet cat who stands on hind legs

This is a later, less refined and simpler version pulled from the block set used in "Woman Playing with Cat" from the series "Spring Dawn: A Contest of Beauties" (Haru no akebono, bijin awase - 美人合 春曙 猫と遊ぶ美人). One way to tell is the differences found in the printing of the woman's hair adorned with ribbons, a kanzashi and a comb. The one in Boston is much more precise in its details, while the one in the Lyon Collection is much more summarily produced. In the Boston example the woman is standing on the wooden flooring at the edge of a room while the woman in the Lyon Collection print is made to appear barefoot on a solid ground. In Boston there are extraneous background elements, like the title cartouche and the identifying adjunct, but also a water basin, a ladle and a flowering plum tree. The basic outlines of the woman's obi in both prints is the same, but there are many changes between the two - including the printing on the stylized seal at the bottom right edge.

Both variations of this print carry the same publisher's seal.

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The other version of this print is illustrated in:

black and white in Traditional Woodblock Prints of Japan by Seiichiro Takahashi, 1973 edition, p. 132.

a small color reproduction in Kunisada: imaging drama and beauty by Robert Schaap, 1980, p. 156. The title is Bijin awase haru no akebono (美人合 春曙 - 'A contest of beauties: spring dawn'). This variant has the title cartouche in the upper left.