Kunisada: Reading Beauty and Stretching Cat
Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: Reading Beauty and Stretching Cat
Date: Ca. 1820s
A reading beauty looks up at her stretching cat. Scene of a bookstore on Hikage Street in Edo on a winter’s day. A woman working at a bookstore and seated beneath a kotatsu warmer seems to be bored as her cat stretches as if it is reflecting the winter day mood of the slow pace of her business. Hikage, (see the writing on a shop sign on the pillar) means shadow and Hikage Street runs near Shinbashi, from south of Shibaguchi Bridge towards Udagawa Bridge, parallel to the main Tokaido. It flourished with souvenir shops for travellers such as shops for oil, books, Ukiyo-e, blades and knives, and materials for kendoo. It was the only shopping street in Edo where security guards were posted. It is said that this street was in the shadow of the residences of samurai families, which were situated on the west side of Hikage Street. Her family crest is on her gown as well as on the cover of the kotatsu warmer; these are decorated with paulownia (kiri) patterns, which indicate the name of the shop. She must be an educated woman, who reads and plays the shamisen, which is leaned against the wall behind her. On the wall a number of surimono are displayed and the notebooks of receipts are hooked on the rail.
Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Completely untrimmed sheet. Minor repair in upper right corner.
Dimensions: 38.4 x 25.9 cm
Signature: Gototei Kunisada ga
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