Portrait of a Courtesan

Chōbunsai Eishi, Japanese, 1756 - 1829

Made in Japan, Asia

Edo Period (1615-1868)

After 1802?

Ink, colors, and gold on silk; mounted as a hanging scroll

Painting: 3 feet 2 1/4 inches x 1 foot 15/16 inches (97.2 x 32.9 cm) Mount: 5 feet 8 1/2 inches x 1 foot 7 1/4 inches (174 x 48.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Warren H. Watanabe, 1997

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The decorative symbols on the kimono—cranes and turtles—are auspicious emblems for long life, often used at New Year's celebrations. The poem, written by Ota Nampo (1749–1823), reads (translated): "Beside the / Flowering Cherries / Of Naka no cho Not a single / Tree from the / Deep mountain valleys."

"Naka no cho" was the main avenue in the pleasure quarters of Edo (present-day Tokyo). The poem implies that no uncultivated country woman would be found among the sophisticated beauties of this area.

The textile mount around the painting is from a kimono; its pattern echoes the mountain valley of the poem.