An image of Portrait of a standing courtesan

Utagawa Toyoharu

(Japan 1735 – 1814)

Portrait of a standing courtesan

Other titles:
Portrait of a standing courtesan (Tayû)
Not on display
Further information

Toyoharu was the founder of the Utagawa school, a school of 'ukiyo-e' that was to dominate the late 1700s into the 1800s. As with many 'ukiyo-e' masters, biographical details on him are scant. He produced many prints, pioneering the use of perspective in his landscape prints. In the 1780s he turned to paintings of courtesans of which this is an extraordinary example. The subject is a high-class courtesan, yet its unusual scale would indicate it was created for a special patron or teahouse proprietor who avidly admired the girl. She is sumptuously dressed in between-season robes, boldly decorated with the classic pairing of phoenix and dragon. The distinctive hairdo with its wide side flanges and many combs and ornamental hairpins dates the work to the 1780s, when such hairstyles were the vogue.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.252.

Place of origin
Japan: Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615–1868
hanging scroll; ink and colour on silk
161.5 x 84.2 cm image; 274.0 x 105.5 x 117.5 cm scroll
Signature & date

Signed l.r., in Japanese, ink [inscribed] "Tôto Utagawa Toyoharu zu-shi [painted by Utagawa Toyoharu of the Eastern Capital (Edo)]" [and two artist's seals]. Not dated.

Purchased with funds provided by Kenneth Myer 1990
Accession number