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Three beauties of the present day

Painting, 1793, 37×25 cm

Description of the artwork «Three beauties of the present day»

In contrast to the dozens of nameless beauties captured by Kitagawa Utamaro, known not only the names of the girls with engraving "Three beauties of the present day", but also their occupation, or even family affiliation. The fact that at the time when the artist began to develop its main strength is the attractive portraits of Japanese women – in the city of Edo, and even beyond, was famous for its beauty three girls: Tomimoto Tehina, Naniwa whales, Takashima Nisa.

Dweller cheerful cheerful quarters


The most eminent of them, Tomimoto Tehina placed in the centre. She was a famous geisha quarter of the fun Nivara. Your nickname beauty has received thanks to the skillful, tomimoto-bushi – song of works-fantastic genre that was very popular in Japan in the Edo period. They were sung to the accompaniment of the shamisen – a traditional Japanese instrument, the closest relative of which, from the familiar to Europeans, may be called a lute.

The exact age of Tomimoto at the time of writing of the engravings is unknown, but it is believed that she is older than her companions, very young girls. And this difference, in some incomprehensible way the artist manages to convey, despite the rather generic image of the faces of the models – it gives a more relaxed, sophisticated look.

To her right, in a black kimono with a pattern is Naniwa whale, also known by the name of Keith. She was the daughter of the owner of a tea house in Asakusa. According to surviving documents, the whale was extremely popular, and became haughty and arrogant to such an extent that they refused to perform their duties and to pour the tea, yet it was not come – that is, waiting for a special invitation.

But her beauty attracted by a father of a crowd of curious fans and brought him a good profit. And this despite the very young age: according to common belief, in this print, the girl must be 15 years of age.

Fifteen hundred beautiful eyes


Third beauty – Takashima hisa, or just About-his, was the eldest daughter of Cobea Takashima, owner of another tea house, this time in Ryogoku. And although she lost in the popularity of its younger rival On the whale, About sixteen-year-old beauty-Hisi valued very highly.

One wealthy merchant was offered a whole fifteen hundred Ryo (Japanese gold coin), but the parents refused, and she left to work at a school father. Apparently, in the long term it might bring more substantial income, attracting customers who flocked to gawk at the beautiful waitress, like flies to honey.

They ruthlessly exploited the advantages of the first beauties of Edo and artist. Engravings with their image was so successful that Utamaro continued churning out new, depicting three girls together (1, 2) and separately (1, 2).

But the most famous and reprint again and again was the woodblock print "Three beauties of the present day", is also spread under the names of "Three beauties of the era, Kansai" and "Three famous beauties". The original Board eventually completely worn out, and the new one had some differences from the original, which researchers define them as belonging to a particular edition.

So, on later versions is missing the inscription with the name of the prints or the names of models, or both together. The reasons why it happened, is not known. Suggest that, perhaps, they are caused by either moving beauties to another city, or the sunset of their popularity, so the names have ceased to have any value.

And the first prints with all appropriate labels and a characteristic Shine in the background, which their master had achieved with mica powder, which gave a special luxury without that luxury most of the variety of prints Nishiki-e in the world there are only two. These include the instances stored at the Boston Museum of fine arts and Kozikowska the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum in Tokyo.

Author: Natalia Azarenka
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Ukiyo-e

Technique: Woodcut

Date of creation: 1793

Size: 37×25 cm

Artwork in selections: 17 selections

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