MEIJI JAPAN 1868 - 1912
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The two women (entertainers, possibly unlicenced prostitutes) shown in this print are identified as Onoyo and San from the area of Honseki-chō. Onoyo awaits as San descends the staircase on the right. The staircase opens onto a foyer which is rendered in sharp vanishing point perspective. To the left is a tile wall illustrating Dutch women and a child on horseback in a style borrowed from Nagasaki-e. It is a jarring juxtaposition to the more conventional treatment of the two Japanese women.

Although Kunichika’s address on this print is Ueno, earlier prints such as those from the series Thirty-six good and evil beauties list the artist’s address at Honseki-chō. This suggests that Kunichika may have known these two women during his residence there

References:             Illustrated on page 59 of Time present and time past. Images of a
forgotten master, Toyohara Kunichika 1835-1900, by Amy Reigle

Newland, Hotei Publishing, Leiden, 1999,

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