Utagawa Toyokuni II (二代目歌川豊国) (artist 1777 – 1835)
The Sign of the Hare (卯) from the series Elegant Women Likened to the Twelve Animals of the Zodiac (Fūryū azuma sugata jūnishi - 風流東姿十二支)
1825 – 1830
10.25 in x 14.75 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Gosotei Toyokuni ga
Artist's seal: toshidama in red
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei (Marks 180 - seal 25-363)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Inset signed: Kunihisa-jo ga
Ritsumeikan University - black and white only
Lyon Collection - another print from this series, the dragon
Lyon Collection - another print from this series, the horse
Lyon Collection - another print from this series, the ram An elegant oiran holds a pack of tissues, a sexual symbol, an indication of her profession. Notice her green lower lip, a popular fashion at that time. Also, look carefully at her collar and you will see partial images of two stylized turtles with a kanji character on their backs. The floral patterns of her expensive hairpins may offer a hint as to which house of prostitution she worked for.
This courtesan has blackened her teeth and is wearing a very expensive greenish lip gloss, sasabeni, on her lower lip. Both were the height of fashion in her day.
The inset of the hares was designed by one of Toyokuni II's pupils, 豊久女, a female student.
Illustrated in black and white in A Special Exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints: Ukiyo-e from Tadashi Goino's Collections (日本浮世繪兿術特展: 五井野正先生収藏展), National Museum of History [Taipei], 1999, 12.
Izumiya Ichibei (和泉屋市兵衛) (publisher)
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
mitate-e (見立て絵) (genre)