Dreaming of The Mouse’s Wedding

Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I 歌川豊国 (1769-1825)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 1790s
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W: 38.5 x 25.2 cm (15 3/16 x 9 15/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, dreaming, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, marriage, mouse, oban, ukiyo-e, woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

This print, which is likely to be the center panel of a triptych, depicts four women of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarter of Edo. A young courtesan-in-training, whose dream is shown above, is accompanied by a maid and two child apprentices, who play a game of One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin isshu). The courtesan dreams of a mouse's wedding, which is the basis for a popular story. Here the mouse is transported in a palanquin, the conveyance reserved for the upper classes of Edo society. This image also recalls the Chinese story of Rosei, a man who dreams of a reversal of his fortunes, but who finds upon awakening that his fate is unchanged. Like Rosei, the courtesan dreams in vain of escaping her life in the brothel, perhaps through marriage to a wealthy patron.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 114, pp. 282-283.
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.