Kuniyoshi: The Strong Woman Okane with Pinks

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Title: Portrait of the Strong Woman Okane With Flowers
Series: Mirror of Women of Wisdom and Courage (Kenyu fujo kagami) 賢勇婦女鏡
Date: Ca. 1844

The strong woman Okane (Kane-jo) of Omi Province, pictured within a circle that is decorated with pinks. Kuniyoshi chose to portray Okane throughout his career; she is always shown in association with her most legendary feat, which was stopping a runaway horse by merely stepping on its lead rope with one geta (wooden sandal). In that scene she is always depicted carrying a tub of laundry, as here--her hands being full must be one reason that she used her foot to stop the horse. The laundry tub also shows how unpretentious she was, although here Kuniyoshi has depicted her as quite beautiful as well. Kuniyoshi devoted several series to women who were strong and heroic in their own right, which was certainly a departure from the norm in Edo Period Japan, when laudatory women were generally given the Confucian role of self-sacrifice. A refreshing portrait from a refreshing series, the roundel is used to visually indicate the roundness of a Japanese mirror. The cartouche above contains text by Ryukatei Tanekazu. The condition of this work is exceptional.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Exceptional condition; untrimmed and unbacked.
Dimensions: ôban (37.5 x 25.8 cm)
Publisher: Takahashi-ya Takakichi
Literature: Robinson S29.5. See MFA, Honolulu Museum collections online.
Signature: Cho-o-ro Kuniyoshi ga