East Asian Art
Portrait of a CourtesanMade in Japan, Asia
Edo Period (1615-1868), After 1802?
Hosoda Eishi, called Chōbunsai, Japanese, 1756 - 1829
Ink, colors, and gold on silk; mounted as a hanging scroll
Currently not on view
1997-22-1Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Warren H. Watanabe, 1997
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.