Prostitute with Sake Cup, c. 1794

Not on Viewexpand_more

With her obi tied in front of her body and elaborate coiffure, this woman probably represents a prostitute from one of Edo's licensed pleasure quarters. Slightly tipsy with sake, she coquettishly stifles a laugh as she watches some amusing scene or engages in clever conversation. The red lacquered cup in her left hand is half full, suggesting the party is still going on. Compared to the somewhat static and idealistic portraits produced by early ukiyo-e artists, this is a much more lively depiction, reflecting the evolving taste for greater realism towards the end of the 18th century. The woman's semi-transparent, loosely woven black kimono suggests that it is summer, and the verse above, written by Shōtoshi, complains of the shortness of summer nights:

How quickly the day has broken!
Here comes the voice of a cuckoo.
A summer night is too brief.

Prostitute with Sake Cup
Artist Life
1769 - 1825
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Hillier, Gale Collection, vol. 2, no. 171
Curator Approved

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