Torii Kiyohiro
The Stolen Love Letter
c. 1750

Signed: Torii Kiyohiro hitsu; artist’s seal: Kiyohiro; Publisher’s seal: Yamashinoya; ōban, 40.6 x 29.4 cm; benizuri-e

A young woman is hurrying out of a dwelling with a sign on the door saying okashi zashiki (rooms to rent). In her left hand she has a small packet of writing paper for poems and a calligraphic copybook (kiyogaki sōsho). She is attempting to recover a love letter from the boy who seems to have taken it. However, the boy only makes fun of her with an insubordinate gesture.

Provenance: Tadamasa Hayashi (Hotel Drouot, Paris, 1902); Chialiva (Vignier et Inada, Estampes Japonaises Primitives, no, 297); Huguette Beres, Paris (February 1971)
Riese Collection #16

The young woman and her tormentor are standing in the street before a boarding house (okashi zashiki). She is holding a copy book which she has been using to draft the love letter that the boy has snatched away from her and refused to give back. The copy book is inscribed kiyogaki sōshi, a type of copy book used for making clean copies of calligraphic exercises. The characters that peep out from an inner page, kashiko, were used at the end of letters and show that the young lady had just engaged in this pursuit. The thin packet in her hand may contain poem slips. The poem seems to read:

Furisode no
kotai ya fumi o

How can the flowing sleeves
Reply? By concealing
A loveletter.

Like so many prints of the period, this seems to be unique.s