A Winter Party

Artist: Utagawa Toyoharu (1735-1814)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 18th-19th century
Color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 52.9 x 96.6 cm (20 13/16 x 38 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

celebration, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, landscape, man, shamisen, ukiyo-e, winter

To 1900
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1900 [1]

From 1900 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1900 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] See Original Kakemono List, pg. 51, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[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) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


Because of its beauty, lightness, and durability, lacquer was widely used in Japan for utensils and containers to serve food and drink. In this scene depicting a winter party are a number of red and black lacquer utensils, many of them embellished with gold maki-e (decoration of sprinkled gold or silver powder). To the right, an entertainer holding a shamisen (a stringed instrument played with a plectrum) sips sake (rice wine) from a red lacquer cup held by a wealthy person. Before him is a red lacquer tray holding a black lacquer soup cup with cover and pair of chopsticks probably made of ivory. Beside the tray is his tobacco pouch with the attached netsuke (toggle) which would suspend it from his sash.

Farther to the left is a young dandy, holding his red lacquer sake cup as he gazes transfixed at the young shamisen player who tunes her instrument. In the foreground are a red lacquer stand and tray holding lacquer and ceramic dishes and containers of food. Behind the young man is a charcoal brazier holding an iron cooking pot. The doors to the veranda are open to a wintry garden scene, a peaceful contrast to the warmth and gaeity within the house.

Utagawa Toyoharu was an accomplished painter whose work records in detail the contemporary scenes of Edo. In this carefully executed painting he has paid meticulous attention to details of the costumes and setting. A decorative effect is created by the embellishment of contour lines with gold. Toyoharu had a strong interest in European concepts of perspective, and designed some prints of such unusual subjects as the Roman forum.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 62, vol. 2: p. 172.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 138.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting: Freer Gallery of Art Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 72, pp. 196-197.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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