The price at represents a new record for any ukiyo-e or woodblock print offered at auction and doubles the previous high, the £240,000 paid in 2007 at Christie’s London rooms for a Red Fuji print by Katsushika Hokusai from the Bob Moore collection.
The Utamaro was part of a 90-lot catalogue of items from the Cabinet Portier, a French firm of Asian experts and collectors spanning four generations. The sale was held at the Drouot auction centre on June 21 by Beaussant Lefèvre in association with Christie’s.
The oban-format print measuring 10 x 14in (25 x 36cm), with a title translating as Deeply Hidden Love, comes from a series of female portraits known as Anthology of Poems: the Love Section published c.1793-94 by Tsutaya Juzaburo.
It depicts a coiffured beauty holding a pipe in her hands.
A refinement to the spare, elegant design is the application of gently sparkling pink mica dust to the ground. The estimate was €80,000-100,000.