Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760 - 1849)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1796-1798
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 152.5 x 35.1 cm (60 1/16 x 13 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 07: Hokusai: Mad About Painting

Hanging scroll

courtesan, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, ukiyo-e

To 1903
Bunshichi Kobayashi (circa 1861-1923), Boston, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Yokohama, to 1903 [1]

From 1903 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunshichi Kobayashi in 1903 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 341, pg. 84, 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919
Bunshichi Kobayashi (C.L. Freer source) circa 1861 - 1923


The woman portrayed in this early painting by Hokusai holds the edge of her garment in her mouth, a gesture that signifies passion, perhaps inspired by the love letter she clutches in her right hand. Her sinuous pose, curved like a reversed "S", is highly stylized and closely resembles the pose portrayed in The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, painted by James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and exhibited in the Freer gallery's Peacock Room. Whistler's work reflects many ideas from his observation of Japanese art. Both Whistler's Princess and this painting by Hokusai were purchased in 1903 by Charles Lang Freer, who is likely to have recognized the similar pose in the Japanese work.
Hokusai, a prolific painter and designer of woodblock prints and printed books, enjoyed extraordinary popularity in Japan during his later years. His work became well-known to European and American collectors and artists during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Published References
  • Hokusai nikuhitsuga taisei (Compilation of paintings by Hokusai). Tokyo. no. 8.
  • Harold P. Stern Narasaki Muneshige. Ukiyo-e shuka. vol. 16, Tokyo. pl. 51.
  • Ernest Francisco Fenollosa. Catalogue of the Exhibition of Paintings of Hokusai: Held at the Japan Fine Art Association, Uyeno Park, Tókio, from 13th to 30th January, 1900. Exh. cat. Tokyo, January 13 - 30, 1900. no. 20.
  • Ann Yonemura. Hokusai: Volume One. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. cat. 2, p. 8.
  • Ann Yonemura et al. Hokusai: Volume Two. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. cat. 17, p. 29, 48.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 84, pp. 232-233.
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 336.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum