Ladies-in-Waiting with Male Entertainers in Female Attire thumbnail 1
Ladies-in-Waiting with Male Entertainers in Female Attire thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

Ladies-in-Waiting with Male Entertainers in Female Attire

Woodblock Print
ca. 1825 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The location in this triptych by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825) is the upper floor of a brothel for boy prostitutes, where a party of three ladies-in-waiting from a samurai household have summoned a group of male entertainers to keep them company for the evening. The woman on the far right, picking her teeth and listening to the shamisen, seems to be the most senior of the ladies-in-waiting. Her companions are the woman in the centre wearing the colourful kimono decorated with plum blossoms and flowing water, and the woman on the far left leaning over the banister. The shamisen player and the two standing figures, all three of whom are wearing long-sleeved kimono, are boy prostitutes. The woman on the stairs carrying a 'sake' pourer and the woman kneeling in the centre are servants.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Colour woodblock print
Brief Description
Japanese print, triptych by Utagawa Toyokuni: 'Ladies-in-Waiting with Male Entertainers in Female Attire', ca. 1825
Physical Description
The scene shows the upper floor of the women's quarters, where a lady-in-waiting has summoned a male entertainer as her companion for the evening. The woman on the right, calmly picking her teeth and listening to the shamisen, seems in age and rank to be the most senior of the three ladies-in-waiting present. The other ladies-in-waiting are the woman in the centre panel wearing a colourful kimono sitting by the serving girl, and the woman in the left-hand panel lounging in a slovenly way and looking down the corridor,. The shamisen player and the two standing figures are male entertainers.

Three oban size sheets. Signature: Toyokuni ga. Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi. Censorship seal: kiwame
Dimensions
  • Height: 36.4cm
  • Width: 75.3cm
Style
Gallery Label
Female attendants in a samurai household have summoned a group of men to entertain them for the evening. The two standing figures and the person playing the shamisen (stringed musical instrument) are young male prostitutes. All three have elaborate hairstyles and are wearing kimono in the style of women. Gender fluidity and sexual ambiguity were distinctive features of Edo-period culture and fashion. (29/02/2020)
Summary
The location in this triptych by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825) is the upper floor of a brothel for boy prostitutes, where a party of three ladies-in-waiting from a samurai household have summoned a group of male entertainers to keep them company for the evening. The woman on the far right, picking her teeth and listening to the shamisen, seems to be the most senior of the ladies-in-waiting. Her companions are the woman in the centre wearing the colourful kimono decorated with plum blossoms and flowing water, and the woman on the far left leaning over the banister. The shamisen player and the two standing figures, all three of whom are wearing long-sleeved kimono, are boy prostitutes. The woman on the stairs carrying a 'sake' pourer and the woman kneeling in the centre are servants.
Bibliographic Reference
Jackson, Anna (editor), Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, London: V&A Publications, 2020
Collection
Accession Number
E.12642-1886

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record createdDecember 8, 2002
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