Utamaro’s depictions of motherhood are considered some of his most intimate portraits. His representation of the relationship between mother and child went on to inspire artists a century later, such as the American Impressionist Mary Cassatt. This print brings together both motherhood and one of Japan’s most popular folktales. Kintaro is a famous Japanese hero known for his bright red skin and feats of incredible strength. Yamauba, the Mountain Woman, raised the orphaned Kintaro after his father abandoned him in the Ashigara Mountains. Though many images of the young hero focus on his strength or his animal playmates, Utamaro focuses on the relationship between mother and child. As Yamauba pulls the string taught around the child’s hair, Kintaro makes a face at her in the hand mirror.
Other impressions of this print can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and Tokyo National Museum.