Sake Cup


The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. This print is from the series Meriyasu Eshō (a selection of images associated with the nagauta song, meriyasu). Meriyasu was a genre of music primarily performed for Kabuki theater, employed to build the atmosphere of a contemplative or lyrical scene. Santō Kyōden (1761–1816), also known as Kitao Masanobu, produced this work during his short career as an ukiyo-e designer between 1780 and 1784. Following his master Kitao Shigemasa, he preferred to draw bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) in a graceful and mature style. The rest of his life was chiefly devoted to book illustrating and, more prominently, writing gesaku (popular fiction).

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1 print : woodcut, color ; 26.1 x 18.4 centimeters


  • From the series: Meriyasu eshō : A selection of images associated with the Nagauta song, Meriyasu.

Last updated: September 18, 2015