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"The Fickle Type": Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
After a series of successful book collaborations, Utamaro and the publisher Tsutaya launched a new, innovative type of bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) series. It was the first bijin-ga to feature half-length portraits of women, a format formerly reserved for yakusha-e (actor prints), and it was the first time an ukiyo-e artist attempted to depict the individuality of the women. The series was also innovative in its use of mica as a background material. The technique of embellishing paper with subtle, printed designs in mica was known in Japan at least as early as the 12th century. Utamaro, however, was one of the first artists to use this expensive material as an overall background. Clearly Tsutaya had great confidence in Utamaro's aesthetic vision. The woman shown here is identified on the print as the "fickle type." To convey this idea, Utamaro depicted her casting a glance over her shoulder, hoping to catch the eye of an interested suitor as she returns, carelessly disheveled, from the bath.
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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: March 10, 2009