Portrait of Kinokuniya Bunzaemon

Portrait of Kinokuniya Bunzaemon

19th century

attributed to Utagawa Toyokuni

(Japanese, 1769-1825)

Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk

Overall: 136.6 x 31.5 cm (53 3/4 x 12 3/8 in.); Within painted borders: 89 x 27.3 cm (35 1/16 x 10 3/4 in.)

The Kelvin Smith Collection, given by Mrs. Kelvin Smith 1985.276

Location

Description

Kinokuniya Bunzaemon was one of Edo’s first millionaire merchants. He made his fortune selling lumber, a lucrative and expanding business in Edo that was often ravaged by fire. Well known for his extravagance, he entertained lavishly and was a generous patron of the theater. He was said once to have set gold and lacquer cups afloat on the Sumida River to amuse people downstream. This painting may be an imaginary portrait, as Kinokuniya Bunzaemon died in 1734—35 years before the artist Toyokuni was born. A patron of the entertainment district and a gourmand, Kinokuniya probably enjoys a New Year’s meal including sushi served on blue-and-white porcelain. The square, tiered box was typically used for serving food for the New Year.

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