A beauty leans against a pillar while another, ensconced under the coverlet of a kotatsu, or foot warmer, is engaged in reading a verse. The potted jonquils, visible behind a partly opened sliding door, provide a hint as to the subject of the verse.
The colors are restricted to cool shades of black and violet in the color scheme called benigirai, or “avoidance of red.” As a result, the permeating mood is cool and tranquil, like that of a day in winter.
During the Temmei (1781-1788) and early Kansei (1789-1300) eras, controls over publishers were severe, and regulations were issued on over ten occasions prohibiting the issue of extravagant color prints. This is said to have resulted in the development of the benigirai color palette, predominating in violets, dark greys and blacks. This astringent color scheme gave rise to some ele-gant, refined prints. This print is a typical example of benigirai which unfortunately employed pastel, transitory pigments, the original colors of which have partially faded.