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Kitagawa Utamaro

The Light-hearted Type (Uwaki no sō), from the series Ten Studies in Female Physiognomy (Fujin sogaku juttai)



Woodblock print; ink, color, and mica on paper

H. 14 7/8 x W. 9 7/8 in. (37.8 x 25.1 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.219

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Innovative compositions, an interest in psychological states, and a fascinating interplay of social commentary, satire, and caricature characterize Japanese woodblock prints produced in the last decade of the 18th century. This print depicting A Flirt exemplifies Utamaro's interest in probing beneath the surface of a subject and his use of subtle clues to create a personality for an imaginary woman who embodies a "type." The alert, somewhat searching expression found on the face of the young woman and her apparent disregard for the state of her clothing help define her as a fickle woman, one who is easily dissatisfied and constantly looking for new men in her life. Utamaro is one of the most renowned Japanese print artists, and he is particularly revered for his skillful and searching depictions of women.