Utagawa Toyokuni
Street in Front of Ebisuya Store in Owari-chō
c. 1791

Signed: Toyokuni ga; Publisher’s seal: Fu(yōdō) Takasu han (Takasuya Shōshichi); censor’s seal: kiwame; uki-e, ōban triptych, 37.2 x 75.3 cm; nishiki-e with kimedashi and shōmenzuri

A group of elegant ladies is promenading along the street in front of the premises of the Ebisuya textile merchants in the company of their servants and children. In round medallions on the curtains of the shop, which was located in Ōwari-chō in the Kyōbashi District of Edo, Ebisu, the God of Good Fortune, is displayed along with a big bream and the name Ebisuya. Banners hanging from the front of the building announce an end of summer sale.

Sotheby’s, London (June 1964)
Riese Collection #96

Toyokuni was born in 1769, the son of a doll maker named Kurahashi Gorōhei. Noticing his son’s talent for drawing, Gorōhei arranged for him to study with Utagawa Toyoharu, an ukiyo-e artist and print designer living in the same neighbourhood. Toyokuni’s first signed illustrated book was published in 1786, and other books and single sheet prints appeared in the following years, although it was not until the mid-1790s that the artist firmly established himself as an independent ukiyo-e artist.
A group of women are standing by the entrance to one of the large dry goods stores in Edo, the Ebisuya, whose symbol, the Lucky God, Ebisu is prominently displayed on the curtain at the right. The wooden plaques announce bargain prices on summer clothing, kimonos, and material of all colours. Each panel is signed with the square, regular characters that are characteristic of Toyokuni’s early work.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 85.