Beauty and Wall Clock


Beauty and Wall Clock

Paintings / Edo

By Nishikawa Sukenobu (1671-1750)

Edo period, 18th century

Color on silk



By the light of a lantern, a young woman ties the weight strings of a clock together, as if trying to stop time by halting the movements of the spindles. The hands of the clock suggest it will soon be time to retire for the night. The image conveys the woman's feelings as the moment approaches when her lover must return home. Clock motifs often appear in ukiyo-e pictures, not merely as interior decorations but often as symbols for 'time spent with someone' or 'the reluctance to part with a lover when the time is up'. This kind of ukiyo-e, where the picture is painstakingly drawn by hand, is known as a nikuhitsu. As well as the woman's sorrowful air, the work is also noticeable for the delicate designs on the gorgeously-colored kimono and the well-rounded, elegant figure of the woman herself.

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