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Ukiyo-e Gallery

Kitagawa Utamaro


Kitagawa Utamaro started his career by doing book illustrations for a major publisher run by Tsutaya Juzaburo . He started gaining popularity from around 1791 for his okubi-e, or close-ups, of beautiful women's faces. As his fame grew, other publishers also started selling his prints, and Utamaro became a leading ukiyo-e artist of the day. But in 1804 the government labeled one of his works inappropriate and banned him from continuing his artistic activities. He died two years later in despair.

  • Sugatami Shichinin Kesho (Seven Women Applying Make-up in the Mirror)

    The perspective in which you see the woman's face through the mirror shows the richness of Utamaro's creativity.

  • Bidoro o Fuku Musume (Woman Blowing a Vidro)

    The vidro is a glass toy that makes a sound when you breathe through it. Utamaro swiftly incorporated the day's fad in this print.

  • Fujin Tewaza Ayatsuri Kagami: Sentaku (Model Images of Women at Work: Laundry)

    This is one of a series depicting the daily life and housework of married women. It's interesting to see what people's lives were like in those days.

Click on the image for a bigger view.