Utamaro II: Beauty playing with a little boy
Artist: Kitagawa Utamaro II
Title: Beauty playing with a little boy
Series: Sono sugata onaji mai fûryû (Fashionable Imitations of Dancing Figures)
Date: ca. 1805
“Monkey Showman Yojirô” (Saru hiki Yojirô). The scene on a New Year’s Day: A mother plays with her small boy who wears the costume of a monkey (of sarumawashi, a monkey entertainer), who would traditionally come to the house gate to wish a happy new year on New Year’s day. He is dancing, swinging a fan in his hand, with pointed eboshi head cover (of a court noble) in black with hinomaru, the red sun on it. His mother with her open clothing suggests that she has just breast-fed the small boy. Her kimono has a flying crane pattern, reflective of the festive occasion of the New Year. She pulls a hanaguruma carriage decorated with flowers and has a white cleaning brush as a purification stick. The uchiwa-e cartouche depicts the famous monkey showman sarumawashi (or saruhiki) Yojirô carrying his monkey on his shoulder. He visits from door to door, wishing a happy new year and collecting money. Originally, the sarumawashi performed in a samurai’s horse stable on New Year’s Day to keep any evil spirits away from their horses. In Kabuki the sarumawashi figure Sakichi, a filial son in Chikagoro kawarano tatehiki, was first performed in 1785 in Osaka and became very popular. The hero of the play Sakichi was modeled after a real figure who was active as a monkey showman, the respected Yojirô of the same sarumawashi trade. Therefore Yojirô represents a good figure of sarumawashi.
Condition: Very good impression, color and condition.
Publisher: Tsuruya Kinsuke
Seal: Censor’s seal: Kiwame
Signature: Utamaro hitsu