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Beauty Looking Back


Title Beauty Looking Back
Quantity 1 hanging scroll
Date 2018
Size 63.0 x 31.2
Production Canon Inc.

Original Work

Artist/Excavation Site By Hishikawa Moronobu (died 1694)
Collection Tokyo National Museum
Medium Color on silk
Date Edo period, 17th century
Collection Ref. No. A-60(複A-60-1)


 This ukiyo-e painting was hand-drawn by Hishikawa Moronobu. A woman in a vivid red garment has stopped to look back. We can only see the side of her face, but from this and her appearance from behind, we can still catch a good glimpse of the fashion trends of the day. She sports a trendy hairstyle, with her long hair tied in a loop at the end. The comb in her hair seems to be made of expensive tortoiseshell. She is wearing a furisode, or a garment with long, swinging sleeves. It features large chrysanthemum and cherry blossom roundels on a luxurious, glossy ground dyed in red. This was also a fashionable design at the time. These motifs were probably rendered using embroidery, gold leaf, and tie-dyed dots. Moronobu was originally a master of garment decoration using a technique that involves embroidery and the pressing of gold and silver foil. This probably explains why he was so good at depicting these kinds of intricate designs. The ends of the woman's obi belt hang low on the left and right. This fastening style was popularized by a famous contemporary actor of female roles. We don't know who this woman was modelled on, but she must have been an extremely fashionable sophisticate. Moronobu's paintings of beauties were very popular and were said to epitomize the women of Edo, as Tokyo was formerly known.