Maid Carrying a Box of Chinese Dishes

Accession Number

Maid Carrying a Box of Chinese Dishes

Katsukawa Shunchō

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
mid 1780

Medium & Support
Pillar-format full-color woodblock print (hashira e nishiki e)

36 in. x 8 in. ( 91.4 cm x 20.3 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Katsukawa Shunchô and Torii Kiyonaga both specialized in images of bijin—beautiful women. As was the case so often with popular print artists, they continually influenced and borrowed from each other, and so jointly arrived at a feminine ideal regarded by many critics as the apogee of the genre: tall, graceful, fully self-possessed women.

In this variation on the pillar print composition, Shunchô provides a bit of risqué humor. A maid is shown emerging from the storehouse of a restaurant or upper-class residence with a large wooden box. Just as she steps over the threshold, a hand reaches out to catch her skirt— coincidentally providing us with more than a glimpse of her legs.
This print makes use of what Hollywood would call "product placement": the wooden box carried by the maid is clearly labeled "Nanjing plates decorated with landscapes, set of ten." Nanjing is a city in southern China; in this context, the reference is to imported blue-and-white porcelain wares.
M. Graybill
"Courtesans, Cross-Dressers, and the Girl Next Door Images of the Feminine in Japanese Popular Prints"
3/9 - 9/1/02

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
color print

Collection Area

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1 Related Resource

Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)

& Author Notes

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