"View of Tokyo’s Shin-Ohashi bridge in Rain" Kobayashi Kiyochika / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Kobayashi Kiyochika’s gorgeous prints of the rapidly modernizing Tokyo of the late 19th century, after its opening up to the world, depicted the juxtaposition of Western and Eastern styles seen on the streets. Women tended to continue wearing the traditional kimono, while businessmen in particular adopted the suit of the West. Conversely, wealthy women in the West used their Eastern counterparts painted fans and silk robes to convey their worldliness.
Anyway, this is a long way to say that I loved the blue-and-white-striped worn with red undergarments in this painting, and—I don’t know if this is entirely coincidental—but Western women at this time had just begun wearing red underwear too (they were previously only allowed to wear white, if they were respectable). But, as I learned while researching a story about the history of lingerie, by the late 1800s even the prudish Queen Victoria had purchased a red petticoat, in an attempt to seduce her increasingly uninterested husband.
If you want to see more of Kiyochika’s work, there’s a lovely exhibition of his Tokyo cityscapes at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. through July 27.