Condition: Great

Vintage Japanese Shunga, (Erotica), Art Two Panel Screen | Byobu | Showa – 1930 to 1950

Two panel floor screen with four Japanese Shunga full-color paintings on silk laid onto washi paper, representing an amorous couple/intruder engaged in a variety of lovemaking techniques, situations, positions and possibilities. These scenes are infused with passion in a way unimaginable in Western art. The concentration on this pleasurable physical exercise is so intense that faces and limbs become contorted in ecstasy. Each painting incorporates an inspirational quote. All four drawings are framed in a Lacquer and glazed finish. This piece was purchased in 1998 from an elderly Japanese couple who were born in Kawasaki, Japan, (home of the Kanamara Matsuri Fertility Festival), and said this type of artwork was typically given as a wedding, (fertility), gift by the daughters family. Condition: Very good, great color retention and detail, with some foxing on the front images and borders, and minimal wear on the backer-board fabric which is not seen from the front of the screen. Dimensions: Each Painting measures – 22-3/8”w x 14-3/4”h— Overall screen- 68-1/4”w x 35-0”h x ¾”d. NOTE: Because of the screen size, packing and shipping are not indicated, and if you are interested please write for a domestic or international quote.

Additional Information —

In examples of Japanese Shunga we see a great variety of lovemaking techniques, situations, positions, and possibilities. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, the diversity of sexual behaviors expressed within this art form offer a glimpse of the sexual freedoms available in previous eras and cultures.

 Some of these scenes are infused with passion in a way unimaginable in Western art. The concentration on this pleasurable physical exercise is so intense that faces and limbs become contorted in ecstasy. Very often it seems that every object present in these scenes bristles with this sexual excitement.

The exaggeration of size in the depiction of both the female and male genitalia has always attracted a great deal of curiosity among Westerners. Primarily, these features were shown much larger-than-life because, given the small scale of most Shunga material, these details would barely be noticed and they were, after all, the focus of this tradition of educational and inspirational material. One other explanation for the focus on larger-than-life genitalia is that all of the early Japanese religions had some element of phallic worship, which carried over into later art forms.

The tradition of Shunga painting began in the 7th or 8th century, and continued into the ukiyo-e woodblock print era of the late 17th century. They reached their creative heights in the 18th century, and then began to ebb in the late 19th century, as more and more Western influence became apparent in Japanese government, law, and ritual. By the beginning of the 20th century, much of the production of Shunga material was driven underground, while what was still produced was increasingly intended for a growing European audience. Private collectors in the West have become very enthusiastic about Shunga. A rare and important Shunga image can fetch healthy prices within the market for Japanese art. Despite the great number of Shunga pieces printed and painted over the last thousand years a great many of them have been destroyed by overzealous Government censors, or indignant Christian missionaries in the past. Finally, it should be mentioned that while almost every major Japanese woodblock artist and painter created erotic prints and paintings, and most of the erotica from Japan was done anonymously. A special thank you to Gianni Morra, Asahi Shimbun, and Greg Kocera for their research on this subject.

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