15 March 2011

Kitagawa Utamaro: The Enduring Beauty of Japan

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) was a Japanese printmaker and painter. He is known for his elegantly restrained studies of women called bijinga or "beautiful person picture". The style is a part of the genre called Ukiyo-e, "pictures of the floating world", woodcut prints featuring motifs of landscapes, kabuki theater, courtesans and geisha. It is a world that is ephemeral and of the moment. Utamaro also created many erotic works including the Poem of the Pillow. One scene depicts two abalone divers interacting with two kappas, or sea monsters. In the nineteenth century the ukyio-e prints of Utamaro and other Japanese artists became available to the European market resulting in the development of Japonisme in the West.


  1. The women in his prints are truly beautiful. TY for mentioning him.

  2. Thank you Rhonda, Utamaro is one of my favorite artists, he had a profound influence on Western art.

  3. Well, this is an interesting idea to add abalones fishing around. I am going to look up how shell fish multiply. I close with love, Maggie

  4. Charles Marsteller25 March, 2011 20:07

    Thank you for this. I recently bought a pre-war Hasegawa (ie.excellent) mica print of the first Utamaro you have posted below... This print is described as a Courtesan and is tasteful in comparison with the other offered of a "Tea House Woman". Regards, Charley

  5. Good Morning,

    I was interested in knowing if I could have someone give me more information on a Kitagawa Utamaro Wooden Cup that I own. I am willing to send pictures by email as well. If you are unable to help, would you at least be willing to point me in the right direction, as to who I can speak to for more answers?

    Thank you

  6. Dear Anon, I would contact Imari Gallery, they do not deal in Utamaro specifically but know many of the Japanese dealers. (415) 332-0245

    Best, Kendra


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