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Beauty in a Black Kimono, c. 1710–20

Torii Kiyonobu, Japanese

This painting of a young woman dressed in an eye-catching, boldly patterned black kimono is a rare work by the early ukiyo-e artist Torii Kiyonobu, the son of a kabuki actor and theatrical design painter. Kiyonobu, the founder of the Torii school of painting and printmaking, was very successful with works that focused on the theater and the denizens of the pleasure quarters. Here, the demure pose and coquettish expression of an elegantly dressed woman capture the seductive qualities popular among patrons of the pleasure quarters. As is typical of fashionable portraits of ladies produced at this time, the hair and facial features are stylized, the artist focusing attention on the garments. The kimono is decorated with a checkerboard-pattern, jacquard weave over which are painted peonies in red, ocher, and blue. Gold outlines around the flowers and the edges of the garment further enhance the richness of the fabric and liveliness of the pattern.



Collection of Jack Hillier [1912-1995], London;

(David Newman, London);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1988.

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