The artist Kitagawa Utamaro, whose birth name was Kitagawa Nebsuyoshi (1753 – 1806), is considered one of the greatest painters from the history of Japanese art. Specifically because of the images of him belonging to theschool of Ukiyo-e, which translated from the Japanese language means “paintings of the floating world.”
A beauty looking in the mirror of Utamaro
Born in the rural world, he soon went to the imperial capital, Tokyo, then called Edo, and with the name from Toyoaki he began to make prints and illustrations of women, a theme that he alternated with landscapes and also with the illustration of books, among which those he made on a subject as peculiar as insects stand out.
However, he abandoned this type of illustration work, and practically from 1791 he dedicated himself exclusively to female portraits of the upper class, and later to women of another type of condition. Within what is the work that we present here: A beauty looking at herself in the mirror. A scene that combines the feminine theme with scenes of a gallant character, and even erotic, for which he did not hesitate to visit the neighborhoods of dubious reputation of the imperial capital.
This caused him some controversy and also problems, specifically when he painted the wife and concubines ofone of the Japanese rulers. In fact, he was sentenced to prison in 1804, something that marked him permanently until his death a couple of years later, and of course it was the end of his artistic career.
However, the quality of his works is unquestionable, since they are extremely elegant portraits, in which he always treats women very delicately. And he technically stands out for his ability to create incredible transparencies.
His creations actually reflect the prototype of oriental beauty, which can always be defined from the concept of subtlety. Already in his time he was considered a great artist. So much so that other great talents of his time, such asHokusaihimself, famous for his views of Mount Fuji, avoided dealing with the same subjects so that the quality of their art would not be compared
Somehow the success he achieved was to the detriment of the quality of his last few years of work, when he leaned more towards quantity than quality. However, the imprint of his art on fashion and painting at that time, and even in current times, is unquestionable, since every time Japanese art is mentioned as an influence, the prints of Utamaroacquire a special prominence, both for the quality of their art and their refinement, all achieved on the basis of simplicity in the compositions and the number of colors used.