Kunisada was a man of the world, who devoted both his life and his art to Tokyo’s pleasure district. He had mastered creating seductive portraits of beautiful women, so-called bijinga.
The white skin of the courtesan depicted on the left is the subject of this woodcut, which is aptly called ‘white’. The poem at the top of the print praises the beauty of all that is white: the snow, the flower, and her neck – which we can admire thanks to the mirror.
A striking number of prints by Kunisada from Van Gogh’s collection were originally part of triptychs and series, meaning that Van Gogh would have had an extremely fragmented image of the Japanese printmaker.
In light of the fact that the prints were part of a larger entity, the compositions sometimes appear to be rather abruptly cropped. They therefore look more modern than originally intended.