Actor Prints and Images of Women

Torii Kotondo (Japanese, 1900-1976)
Applying Makeup, 1929
Color woodblock print
Gift of the Rodbell Family Collection, 2014.16.40

Representing Kabuki actors and fashionable or attractive women has a long history in ukiyo-e printmaking. Utagawa Kunisada I and II were celebrated for their depictions of actors and illustrations of popular genre and literary tales. Toyohara Chikanobu’s prints exhibit new types of brightly hued ink in the ukiyo-e tradition during the 1890s, while maintaining a focus on women in traditional costumes and settings. In the 1920s, printmakers Itō Shinsui and Torii Kotondo further modified the tradition and brought the so-called "female beauty" prints into the twentieth century by featuring close-up, intimate views of their models immersed in modern daily rituals of applying makeup and bathing.