When I visited the Mary Griggs Burke Collection section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the section was wel-exhibited in sequence of Japanese history. I could enjoy seeing many artworks from Kofun period to Edo period. Especially, in Edo period section, I saw around five pieces of female portrait, and I could easily appreciate the portraits with knowledge that I learned in the class.
The five female portraits express courtesans in Edo period. I decided to focus more on one piece of the female portraits named “Courtesans Parodying Kanzan and Jittoku” from Kinpusha Toyomaro.
At first glance, the painting appears to simply show two gorgeous courtesans in
natural poses. One holds a brush and paper in her hands, and there is a book in front of her. Therefore, I think that because courtesans usually dealt with a high class, such as shoguns, daimyos as samurais and a wealthy merchant in Edo period, courtesans had to have literate
ability and acquaintance with literature in order to provide pleasure to their customers.
(or in order to maintain natural conversation with their customers.)
According to the painting label, the other gorgeously garbed and coiffed courtesan holds a broom as she toys with a hairpin. Especially, her splendid cloth called kimono caught my attention at once. The kimono has a loud color, and is embroidered with a pattern of flowers. I guess that most courtesans might live an abundant life. Because of development of commercialization, many wealthy samurais and merchants appeared in Edo period(McClain 85).
Therefore, the Customers were willing to pay for their courtesans as sponsors. As a result, courtesans could spend a great deal of money in order to adorn their hair, make-up and clothes, and enjoy the literature in Edo period.
Many women of nonsamurai status worked outside the house, especially before marriage (McClain 96); thus, there were many courtesans in Edo period. They had extensive knowledge about literature, and were dressed up with luxury items in order to satisfy the taste of high rank
customers. Honestly, I usually do not prefer to go to Museum; however, while I was looking around and walking around the section with my knowledge of Japanese history, I could see and appreciatesomething more about the artworks. That is why I really enjoyed with Japanese artworks at the Metropolitan Museum.