Two Geisha reading from a book

Maker(s)
Artist: Gakutei Harunobu (active ca. 1813-ca. 1868)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 19th century
Medium
Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold, and silver on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 56.7 x 87 cm (22 5/16 x 34 1/4 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1898.8
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
cherry blossom, Edo period (1615 - 1868), geisha, Japan, reading, spring, ukiyo-e
Provenance

To 1898
Edward S. Hull Jr., New York, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Edward S. Hull Jr. in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 127, as well as Voucher No. 27, February 1898, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Edward S. Hull Jr. was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa’s (1853-1908) lawyer. Hull often acted as an agent, facilitating purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa, as well as purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa's well-known associate, Bunshichi Kobayashi (see correspondence, Hull to Freer, 1898-1900, as well as invoices from E.S. Hull Jr., 1898-1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives). See also, Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pgs. 15 and 34. See further, Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, Freer: A Legacy of Art, (Washington, DC and New York: Freer Gallery of Art and H. N. Abrams, 1993), pgs. 133-134.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Edward S. Hull Jr. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919

Label

Gakutei was a native of Edo who became a poet, painter, and designer of prints, especially privately commissioned surimono. This painting depicts courtesans reading beside a circular window as cherry blossoms fall from trees in full bloom. They read from the book Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness), a classical work by the Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350). Among the highest-ranking professional entertainers of the Yoshiwara, the licensed pleasure district of Edo, were women famous not only for their beauty but also for their cultivation of literary pursuits and their knowledge of arts such as calligraphy. The influence of Hokusai's style is apparent in the poses of the women and the crenellated details of the edges of their costumes.

Published References
  • Ann McClellan. The Cherry Blossom Festival. Boston. p. 15.
  • Elisabeth West FitzHugh. A Pigment Census of Ukiyo-e Paintings in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 11 Washington and Ann Arbor, 1979. pp. 27-38.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.