Women and East Asian Art

Listening to the Sound of Crickets on an Autumn Night

Listening to the Sound of Crickets

Utagawa Kunisada I (Toyokuni III) and Utagawa Kunihisa II, Listening to the Sound of Crickets on an Autumn Night. 1860, Edo period. Woodblock print, ink and color on paper, triptych, 34.3 x 72.2 cm. The Trout Gallery.

In Listening to the Sound of Crickets on an Autumn Night from the Edo period, Kunisada I (Toyokuni III) and Kunihisa II dress the figures in vibrant, colorful, flower-patterned, and flexible kimonos, and place them in various locations across the art. womanTo the center of the artwork, there is a woman and she is the main allure. She is eyeing a woman and girl to the left while also gesturing with her sleeve to a different woman and man to the right. She is also holding a light source which is casting a shadow from her garment sleeve to the left section of the painting. The shadow parallels the composition of the art. The shadow line running left and right parallels the lines running left and right on the roof of the house and alike, while the other shadow line running up and down parallels the lines running up and down on the rails of the house and alike. These running parallel lines, further, together form many ninety-degree angular spaces. woman and childFor example, the shadow lines running left and right and up and down jointly over the woman and girl to the left echo the ninety-degree angular spaces framed by the house’s porch rails as well as the edges of the mat. The central woman figure intersects the negative space to the left that depicts serenity and the positive space to the right that represents disruption. In other words, the woman acts as a blending point for the art. She is not only adding positive space to the left part of the painting but also connecting the two interactions that are occurring either side of her. To the left, a woman and child stand firmly together, listening to the sound of crickets on an Autumn night. woman and manSimultaneously, to the right, a woman leaned in a forward position is in the process of serving a beverage to a man. The woman’s contact with the man also alludes to women’s subordination and submission to men during this time period.

In this painting, a woman is interacting with two other women indirectly with the use of colors, lines, and spaces. As a result, the exchanges women went through in day to day life at this period is divulged. We, as the observers, can therefore indirectly partake in the subtle activities of these women during this time. For example, we, as the viewers, can participate with the main allure as she is eyeing another woman who is with a child engaging in a leisure activity. The subjects are seen wearing colorful garments and are drawn with extremely fine lines to highlight their differing roles and movements across the painting. Also, the women’s expressions and appearances are assorted to depict the diverse habits they went through in their everyday lives during this period.


Author: Sarah Morgan


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