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Courtesan in an iris-patterned robe: "June" in a series of Twelve Months

Accession Number
1955/1.128

Title
Courtesan in an iris-patterned robe: "June" in a series of Twelve Months

Artist(s)
Kaigetsudô Dohan

Object Creation Date
circa 1714

Medium & Support
Kakemono-e (oversize) sumizurii-e (monochrome woodblock print) on paper

Dimensions
25 in x 12 1/8 in (63.5 cm x 30.8 cm);32 1/8 in x 26 in (81.6 cm x 66.04 cm);25 in x 12 1/16 in (63.5 cm x 30.64 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy

Kaigetsudô Dohan

Japan, 1709–1719

Twelve Months: Courtesan in an Iris-Patterned Robe (June)

Edo period (1615–1868)
ca. 1714
Monochrome woodblock print on paper Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1955/1.128

This large print is from a very rare series issued in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) in the 1710s by the Kaigetsudô school of artists, who specialized in depicting courtesans swathed in magnificent, boldly-patterned robes, set against a plain background. These prints were perhaps intended to be inexpensive substitutes for paintings. Here the courtesan has allowed her cloak to slip off her shoulder, displaying her iris-patterned kimono to dramatic effect. She coyly hides her right hand in the sleeve she raises to her chin, while gathering up her robes with her left hand. The typical Kaigetsudô courtesan was a physically imposing woman who was both seductive and yet somehow beyond our reach—on display, yet in her own closed-off world.



Subject matter
This extravagantly large print is one of a very rare series issued in Edo in the 1710s by the Kaigetsudô School of artists. Perhaps designed as inexpensive substitutes for paintings, Kaigetsudô prints invariably depict courtesans swathed in magnificent bold-patterned robes, against a plain ground. The typical Kaigetsudô courtesan is a full-bodied woman who is both seductive and yet somehow beyond our reach; for all that she is on display, she remains in her own closed-off world of reveries.
(M. Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art, March, 2002)

Physical Description
This is a large monochrome print of a courtesan wearing kimono with iris design. The courtesan is standing with her right hand in the sleeve that she raises to her chin and left hand gathering up her kimono; Her cloak with bamboo leaf and gentian flower design is slipping off her shoulder and revealing her dark kimono with iris roundels. She has long hair; her hair is tied and draped on the back. She is looking toward the right side. There is the artist’s signature and seal, and publisher’s seal on the right.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
black and white print

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
bamboo (material)
courtesans
kimonos

2 Related Resources

History of Western Sexuality and Gender Roles
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

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