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Courtesan Reading a Letter
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Item Details
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Japan, Edo period (1615-1868)
Courtesan Reading a Letter
Work Type
early 1800s
two-panel folding screen; ink and color on paper
Image: 156.8 x 165.4 cm (61 3/4 x 65 1/8 in.); Overall: 175.2 x 183.5 cm (69 x 72 1/4 in.)
Teisai Hokuba, a disciple of the famed painter and print designer Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), is best known for his private edition poetry-print designs, or surimono, and hanging scroll paintings. The screen format is unusual for him. On the right panel, he has depicted a courtesan reading a letter, a popular theme in ukiyo-e painting. On the left panel, Ota Nanpo, a writer in Hokuba's circle, brushed a poem that humorously compares the courtesan to the legendary 9th-century poet Ono no Komachi:
Having been asked to stay over,
I stayed on-and for a good reason:
It's way past midnight [closing time in the Yoshiwara]
And the lady is that (legendary implorer) Amagoi Komachi.
painting: Signed: Teisai
Sealed: Hokuba
calligraphy: Signed: Shokusanjin
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Collection: ASIAN - Folding screen
Department: Japanese Art
Provenance: (David Newman, London, 1974); Mr. and Mrs. Kelvin Smith.
The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith
Accession Number
Image and original data from The Cleveland Museum of Art
Use of this image is in accordance with the Artstor Terms & Conditions
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