Scholten Japanese Art
Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865)
Two Beauties with a Maid Carrying Lantern and Shamisen
each sheet signed Gototei Kunisada ga, with publisher's seal Mi (Mikawaya Seiemon), the middle and right sheet includes censor's seal kiwame (approved), ca.1820
oban tate-e triptych 15 1/2 by 35 in., 39.37 by 88.9 cm
Kunisada presents three beautiful women guided by lantern light at night. They are either courtesans or more likely geisha (professional entertainers) on their way to a party with their maid in the lead carrying their shamisen box while carefully tipping her paper lantern downward in order to illuminate the scurrying dog which has startled the beauty on the left. The beam of light highlights the beautiful women as well as the gorgeous patterning on their kimono and casts all else into grey swirling shadows created by the printer utilizing a technique called baren sujizuri. In the center and right background are figures in silhouette, while two young messengers carrying lanterns and bells dash off to the left.