Tamamushi Satoko, Sakai Hoitsu, Shincho Nihon bijutsu bunko, vol.18 (Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1997), pl. 2.
Hoitsu is well-known as a Rinpa artist, but he also painted ukiyo-e style beauty paintings in his early period. These resemble those of his contemporaries Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-93) and Utagawa Toyoharu (see lot. 118). Hoitsu signed this painting Toryo, a name he used from his teens through twenties.
The poem is by Ota Nanpo (Shokusanjin [1749-1823]), satirist and leading light of the Edo literary scene in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was a close friend of Hoitsu through the kyoka (comic verse) circles to which the artist also belonged in the 1780s. Nanpo's poem is based on a poem by an unknown poet contained in vol. 14 of the Man'yoshu (Collection of a Myriad Leaves), the anthology of classic verse written before 760:
Tamagawa ni sarasu tetsukuri sarasarani
mukashi no fude to sarani omowazu
When I bleach the softest hand-made cotton in the Jewel River, I recall the love letter I once wrote to you.