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Beauty under the cherries at Ryodaishi Hall, approx. 1870-1894

Beauty under the cherries at Ryodaishi Hall

Beauty under the cherries at Ryodaishi Hall, probably Ando Hiroshige III (Japanese, 1843-1894), approx. 1870-1894. Hanging scroll; ink and colors on paper. Gift of Jim Myers, 2006.36.

This scene captures a beautiful woman who alights from a palanquin to take in the spectacle of cherry blossoms in the wind. She is barefoot, her wooden clogs (geta) still hanging from the back of the palanquin. Her left hand catches hold of her hat, which a breeze has lifted from her head, exposing her headcloth, decorated with the auspicious “plump sparrow” motif. A coat covers her plum-patterned kimono robe, from which peaks a red undergarment with a white collar decorated with a gold cherry blossom motif.

Under a branch of cherry blossoms at the top of the composition is an intricately carved black lacquer signpost with finely incised gilded bronze fittings. The three partially hidden characters on its wood grain background indicate that the woman has alighted in front of the Ryodaishi Hall, which is on the grounds of Kan’eiji Temple in Edo’ s Ueno district, an area famous for its cherry blossoms.

This work bears a “Hiroshige” signature and an “Ichiryusai” seal similar to those found on paintings known to be by Hiroshige I (1797–1858). Paintings of beautiful women by Hiroshige I are rare, however, and the few extant examples differ stylistically from the work shown here. Also the rich decoration on the garments and signpost, and the shape of the face suggest that this painting was made by one of Hiroshige’ s students named after him.

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