Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Mizuchaya (水茶屋) teahouse from the series Contest of Beauties (Bijin kurabe - 美女競)

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Dates: 1823 - 1825,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
Publisher: Daikokuya
It reads: ふきや町 / 大黒屋板 (Marks U032 - seal 26-009)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Ritsumeikan University ;

Physical description:

A fashionable young Edo woman is reading while warming her hands from the winter's cold.

Notice the water motifs in this print. She works at the 'water (水) teahouse'; her brown outer robe is decorated with stylized turtles as is the small blue and white ceramic on the ledge near her; her blue and white obi has stylized bats on it - another symbol of good fortune or happiness; and her green robe visible only near her feet shows ducks swimming.


The publisher's seal is a bit puzzling. There is only one other print by Kunisada which we have found with this seal. It is in the British Museum. It represents Benkei carrying the great bell of Mii. Both read as Fukiya-cho/Daikokuya han (ふきや町 / 大黒屋板). Both are signed 'Gototei Kunisada ga.' The Benkei print is 'guestimated' to date from the 1830s. Marks gives this publisher's dates as ca. 1820-37.

Not only is this seal a puzzler - and hence the publisher it goes with - but a search on the Internet at Google in both English and Japanese for either "ふきや町 / 大黒屋板" or "Fukiya-cho/Daikokuya han" yields only two results as of August 20, 2014 and both are the same print in the British Museum. To top that off, by clicking on the Daikokuya link at that site only one print shows up - the Kunisada Benkei. Generally the other prints ascribed to this publisher use a different seal.