Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Young Woman Reading A Letter

Initial Reaction:
The first thing that stuck out to me was the line quality that is somewhat unique to Japanese art.  The lines are thin and delicate.  They are black on the face of the young woman, and white on her hair to ensure that the lines are still seen.  The lines of her clothing are thicker and more dramatic than the lines of her body, though this is offset by the fact that the lines are also less stark colours than white or black, which keeps the line work balanced.  The woman's hands and body both seem far too small for her face and head, which emphasizes her face and her expression of unhappiness.  There is much negative space, though perhaps less in traditional Chinese art.

After Research:
I discovered that this was a piece in a collection of women in various stages of being courted; all the images center around romance.  Her look into the distance and tight grip on the letter indicate longing.  This image was painted during the Edo period in Japan and is a highlight of that period.  Edo art is characterized by ukiyo-e art, dramatic works (such as kabuki theatre) and a certain amount of irreverence.  This explains the large head, dramatic eyebrows, and odd expression.  It was painted by Kitagawa Utamaro, as was the rest of the set.

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