Japanese Art in the Asia Society Collection

Asia Society

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)
A Flirt, from the series Ten Studies in Female Physiognomy (Fujin sogaku juttai)
Edo period, 1791-1792
Woodblock print; ink, color, and mica on paper

This print is one of a series portraying female "types," in this case a fickle, flirtatious woman identified by her wandering eyes and disregard for her exposed breast. "Big-head pictures" (okubi-e) of courtesans in brothels or teahouses were mass-produced beginning in the seventeenth century in an affordable medium for a large urban population. Among the first images to reach the West, these eroticized portraits provided a potent foundation for Western stereotypes of Japanese women.