Women Airing Books and Clothes

Artist: Katsukawa Shunshō 勝川春章 (1726-1792)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, Late 18th century
Hanging scroll mounted on panel; ink, color, and gold on silk
H x W (panel): 193.8 x 105.5 cm (76 5/16 x 41 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

child, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, woman

To 1905
Yamanaka & Company, to 1905 [1]

From 1905 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1905 [2]

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


[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Panel List, L. 52, pg. 18, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[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)

Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919


The annual airing of books and clothing to prevent mildew and insects takes place each year in summer. Four women and a young boy lay out paper-covered books removed from protective cabinets. The books are hung over a line to air while one woman becomes distracted from the task by what she finds in an open book. The cuckoo flying overhead is often associated with images of courtesans or with poetry expressing love and longing.

Published References
  • Ukiyo-e Shuka. 19 vols., Tokyo, 1978-1985. pl. 6.
  • 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.
  • James L. Huffman. Modern Japan: A History in Documents. Pages from History New York. p. 40.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 66, pp. 180-181.
  • Richard Lane. Masters of the Japanese Print: Their World and Their Work. The Arts of man series Garden City, N.J. p. 187, fig. 87.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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