An original painting of ukiyo-e woodblock print artist Kitagawa Utamaro was discovered at a house in the city of Tochigi, an art expert said Friday.
The painting, titled “Onna Daruma Zu” (“Picture of Woman Dharma”), depicts the upper body of a courtesan disguising herself as a Buddhist dharma wearing a red robe, on a sheet of “washi” paper.
The painting, which is about 37 cm long and 57 cm wide, was appraised to be genuine by Shugo Asano, head of the cultural section of the Chiba City Museum of Art.
Asano said he assumes that Utamaro (1753-1806) may have produced the painting when he was in his late 30s.
The work is one of only 30 autographed paintings by Utamaro, who is believed to have produced more than 2,000 woodblock prints.
The existence of “Onna Daruma Zu” was noted in an old document, but it had not been proved. Thus, the painting was called a “phantom work.”