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UTAMARO - Japanese Woodblock Print HOUR OF THE HORSE

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UTAMARO - Japanese Woodblock Print HOUR OF THE HORSE


Hour of the Horse (12 a.m.)

from the series "Sundial of Young Women"

Date: originally published c. 1794, this is a Showa era strike published by Watanabe from recarved blocks with publishers 7mm seal
Size: oban approx. 10" x 15.5"
Condition: Fine, no flaws, uncirculated print, never framed
Impression: Fine, solid key lines and excellent registration of color, an interesting print in that Utamaro blind embossed some of the contour lines of the faces and bodies of the women
Color: Fine, deep saturated color and bleed through
The Hour of the Horse is about noon. The inscription suggests that: "In olden times the women's bath as shown in this picture took place at the Hour of the Monkey (4 p.m.)". The woman crouching on the right holds in her mouth a "bran bag" (nukabukuro) used to clean the skin, like modern soap. Her cotton bathrobe is decorated with a pattern of linked "snow rings" (yukiwa). The contour lines of her face, ear, neck, and breast are blind embossed, as is the face, ear, and neck of the woman on the left. The embossing of contour lines such as these was the unique invention of Utamaro who also experimented with printing similar lines in colors other than black on other designs. Note also the very fine carving of the hairline of this print.


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