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Dawn Inside the Yoshiwara, No. 38 in One Hundred Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Daybreak had classic associations in Japanese literature with parting lovers, and the scene played out by the four figures at the center of this print is in keeping with that tradition. It is early dawn in the Yoshiwara, the popular licensed pleasure quarters for the Edo demimonde. To the left is a departing guest, his "cheek-cover hood" discreetly in place for the journey home. An attendant to the rear seems anxious to return to bed, while another one with a lantern stands in front of the guest, facing awkwardly away from him and toward the courtesan, who is clad in a bright-red overgarment and wears raised black clogs that mark her high rank.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 4th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (36.2 x 23.7 cm) Image: 13 1/4 x 9 in. (33.7 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible, probably lost when left margin was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.38
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Dawn in the Yoshiwara licensed quarter, at Sumicho, the "corner district," which leads out into the central avenue of Nakanocho. On the left is Omon Gate, the one point of entry and departure for visitors to the Yoshiwara. In the center of the street, a lantern still glows and to the left there are four figures, one of whom is the guest, his "cheek-cover hood" (hokammuri-zukin) in place. An attendant to the rear with a lantern stands in front of the guest. The courtesan wears a bright red overgarment and raised black clogs that denote her high rank (she does not face the guest). The cherry trees depicted here were a peculiar Yoshiwara custom. Each year they were transplanted to a raised bed of soil along the main avenue in the Yoshiwara quarter for the duration of their bloom and then removed.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Dawn Inside the Yoshiwara, No. 38 in One Hundred Views of Edo, 4th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 5/16 in. (36.2 x 23.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.38 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.38_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.38_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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