Courtesan Relaxing with Attendant

Accession Number

Courtesan Relaxing with Attendant

Okumura Masanobu

Object Creation Date
1st half of 18th century

Medium & Support
hanging scroll, ink and color on silk

13 7/16 in. x 21 5/16 in. ( 34.1 cm x 54.1 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2013
Okumura Masanobu
Japan, 1686–1764
Courtesan Relaxing with Attendant
Edo period (1615–1868)
1st half of the 18th century
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Museum purchase, 1963/1.94
The cherry blossom has no rivals for the affection of the Japanese. Every spring the national media eagerly follow the progress of the “cherry blossom front” as it sweeps like a monsoon from south to north. Cherry blossoms have been compared to samurai warriors because they are short-lived. More often, however, they are seen as a symbol of uninhibited pleasure or sensuality. Okumura Masanobu, a master of bijinga (“pictures of beautiful women”) paintings and prints, exploits that association in this colorful scene. An elegant courtesan turns to listen to her young servant, who leans across the veranda as though she has just rushed in—no doubt with word that the courtesan’s lover is on his way. The courtesan, like the cherry tree in full-bloom, is at the height of her beauty.

Subject matter
An elegantly-dressed courtesan reclining in her chambers and turning her head to listen as her attendant is leaning over the veranda to speak to her. The courtesan is comparible to the cherry tree outside her quarters, both being at the height of their beauty.

Physical Description
A colored image depicting a woman lounging in her chambers. She wears a kimono of red and blue with an artistic stylized pattern. Outside is a cherry tree blooming and the woman's young attendant in a grey kimono.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
hanging scroll

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

gardens (open spaces)
lacquer (coating)

4 Related Resources

Japan Pax Tokugawa 1600-1868
(Part of: Empires and Colonialism)
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)
W20 Erickson - Art History 312: Art of Japan
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted