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Sode ga ura, the Bay of Sleeves, part of triptych

Utagawa Toyokuni I

Artwork Details

Sode ga ura, the Bay of Sleeves, part of triptych
early 1790s - mid 1790s
Utagawa Toyokuni I
Large full-color woodblock print (ôban nishiki e), triptych
14 in. x 9 3/4 in. ( 35.56 cm x 24.77 cm )
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

On Display

Not currently on display


An important innovation in print designs of the 1780s had been Torii Kiyonaga’s introduction of outdoor settings for his “beautiful women.” Here Toyokuni is once again working in Kiyonaga’s mode; the difference with Kiyonaga’s Takanawa print of a decade earlier (also on view in the gallery) shows how much Edo print artists had learned about representing three-dimensional space in the interim. The new sophistication may be attributed in part to the influence of European prints, filtered through many intermediaries.
The seaside was the outdoor summer playground of Edo: there were dozens of public beaches within a half-day’s walk of the city. Then as now, vendors set up wood-and-bamboo stalls to hawk savories such as roasted squid, or sweets made from red bean paste. In this panoramic view of Sode ga ura (the “Bay of Sleeves,” an inlet of Tokyo Bay), the foreground is filled with well-attired tourists, returning from a day at the shore. They carry a full array of seasonal paraphernalia: a sun parasol, fans, and toys as souvenirs for the children.
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
"Courtesans, Cross-Dressers and the Girl Next Door: Images of the Feminine in Japanese Popular Prints"
March 9 - September 1, 2002

Subject Matter:

The Label Copy details most of the Subject Matter.

Physical Description:

The middle third of the triptych is comprised of 5 individuals. Of the 5 people, two are children and the other three are adult women. The adults stand in a line with the outermost women holding long sticks. The other ends of the sticks are held by the two children in front of them. The leftmost child holds an umbrella and the leftmost adult wears a sun hat. Behind them is the background of the bay dotted with boats. In the distance is more land with green trees. There are two cats to the right of the five figures. There is an inscription on the bottom left and two seals to the right of it. 

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