Portrait of Tomimoto Toyohina, 1795-1796

Not on Viewexpand_more

Tomimoto Toyohina was a much sought-after geisha (entertainer) who performed narrative ballads accompanied by the shamisen. She was one of several non-prostitute beauties, including teahouse waitresses, whom Utamaro depicted repeatedly in the early to mid 1790s. Here she wears a headdress called agebōshi, used by fashionable women to protect their oiled coiffures from dust and wind when they went out. For this image, the printer rendered the agebōshi in pale pink mica to suggest the texture of silk.

This composition is from a six-print series comprising half-length portraits of famous beauties. The women are not identified directly, but their names are given in hanji-e, or picture riddles, adjoining the title cartouche. Utamaro may have used this device to circumvent an edict issued in 1793 that prohibited the naming of women in ukiyo-e prints unless they were prostitutes. Here, a lottery box (tomi), duckweed (mo), and a whetstone (to) serve to “spell” Tomimoto; a door (to), a lantern to suggest night (yo), and a doll (hina) signify Toyohina. This practice ceased in 1796 when a new proclamation specifically forbade the use of picture riddles.

Portrait of Tomimoto Toyohina
Artist Life
1753 - 1806
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.