Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

This beauty wears layers of robes decorated in geometric swathes with the "fawn spot" pattern, a laborious miniature tie-dye technique popular during the Kanbun era (1661–73). Her hair is carefully arranged around her delicate face, and a slender foot protrudes erotically from under her skirts. Nothing in the background indicates the woman’s identity or location, yet her posture suggests she is en route somewhere and is unaware of our gaze, inviting a sense of encounter between the viewer and the woman. This sort of implied interaction was critical to the visual economy of floating-world fantasy.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Kanbun Beauty
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
Mid- to late 17th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
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Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on paper
painting proper: H. 115 × W. 47 cm (45 1/4 × 18 1/2 in.)
mounting overall: H. 198.1 × W. 68.6 cm (78 × 27 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan, ed., Edo à la mode : aesthetic lineages seen in kosode kimono motifs, exh. cat. (Tokyo, 1999), p. 61, illustration 68

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 35, fig. 20

Exhibition History

Edo a la Mode: Aesthetic Lineages Seen in Kosode Kimono Motifs, Suntory Museum, Osaka, 12/21/1999 - 02/06/2000

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 05/31/2015

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 07/18/2021

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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