Wrapped in layers of peach and green, the courtesan Hitomoto leans back, exposing the pale nape of her neck. She grasps the pillow, her hair heavily laden with hairpins. Utamaro is one of the masters of ukiyo-e. Around 1791, he directed his focus to half portraits of individual beauties, breaking away from the group designs that dominated the bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) genre of the time. Through the intimate detail of the okubi-e (big head) format, Utamaro combines psychological portraiture with a subtle sense of eroticism–here found in the exposed nape of Hitomoto’s neck. Utamaro portrayed his age and its courtesans with such striking innovation that his women have become emblems of the floating world.
Other impressions of this print can be found in collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Ritsumeikan University.