Utagawa Yoshikazu

fl. ca. 1850's-70's

American Family with Dancing Daughter

signed Yoshikazu ga, with publisher's seal Jokin (Joshuya Kinzo of Shofukudo), combined censor and date seal Inu-ju, aratame (year of the dog [1862], 10th month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 9 3/4 in., 36.3 by 24.7 cm

Yoshikazu derived the subject of a little girl dancing with castanets from an illustration titled: May Festival Ball of the Children at Willard's Hotel, Given in Honor of the Japanese Ambassadors published in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on June 9, 1860. The Washington, D.C. ball celebrated Japan's first embassy to the United States. The following year, one of the delegates, Kato Somo, published an account of his journey in which he noted how impressed he was with the performance. He described the children: "They had neither powder nor rouge, but their natural, beautiful complexion was whiter than snow, and more resplendent than jewels. They looked like goddesses [tennyo] in Paradise [shinsenkyo]."

In December of 1860, Yoshikazu published a triptych with a young girl dancing with castanets in a Western-style ballroom for a large audience, holding the same pose as the girl in the illustration published in the American newspaper in June. In this composition from two years later, Yoshikazu presents a more intimate setting with a little girl dancing for a couple, perhaps her own parents.

Ann Yonemura, Yokohama: Prints from Nineteenth-Century Japan, 1990, pp.142-143, cat. no. 54 (1860 newspaper illustration and triptych)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession no. JP3323a for a similar composition also by Yoshikazu from 1861

price: $775


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site last updated
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