The lovers Gompachi and Komurasaki
The tragic tale of these 17th-century lovers has been of constant fascination to the Japanese.
Having turned to crime in his attempt to raise money to buy Komurasaki's freedom, Gompachi was caught and executed. Learning of Gompachi's death, Komurasaki committed suicide.
In this narrow format, Utamaro has captured the emotional and psychological link between the lovers, with the young samurai hovering protectively over the adoring courtesan.
On her robes is a pair of mandarin ducks, symbol of conjugal love, and cherry blossoms, symbols of fragility and transience.