The genre of beautiful women pictures includes depictions of domestic life and activities of regular, rather than professional, women. Kitagawa Utamaro was particularly known for these depictions. He is represented here by a print from his series of women of the three classes (high, middle and low) and a child with a wet nurse. Few woodblock print artists included depictions of children, but Utamaro regularly portrayed them. Kikugawa Eizan was influenced by Utamaro to create his winter scene of a woman and child playing.
Women also appear prominently in scenes of the Japanese landscape. After Katsukawa Hokusai’s famous 1830s series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, landscapes became one of the popular forms of woodblock prints. Utagawa Hiroshige made several series, most famously the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tôkaidô. The Tôkaidô Road connected the military capital of Edo with the ancient capital of Kyoto, and was the starting point for journeys further south. Hiroshige designed multiple series beginning in the 1830s. In this example, dancers are shown passing a fabric shop in Narumi, followed by porters carrying their instrument boxes. Another from a series of scenes around Edo shows women washing cloth in the Tamagawa River.
- This description was written by art historian Hilary K. Snow, PhD. Honors College Lecturer in Art History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee