Japanese Shunga

Antique Japanese Shunga Erotic Art Painting on Silk | Meiji Original Spring Picture: Special Love

$90.00 Regular price $270.00

Age:Late Meiji period (1880's-1910's)

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 15-0” h x 22-3/4”l

Ukiyo-e, often translated as "pictures of the floating world," refers to Japanese paintings and woodblock prints that originally depicted the cities' pleasure districts during the Edo Period, when the sensual attributes of life were encouraged amongst a tranquil existence under the peaceful rule of the Shoguns. These idyllic narratives not only document the leisure activities and climate of the time, they also depict the decidedly Japanese aesthetics of beauty, poetry, nature, spirituality, love, and sex.

This detailed artwork is a sub-genre of Ukiyo-e called shunga depicting an intimate experience in an erotic painting on silk. This watercolor drawing incorporates the two fully dressed individuals; the gentleman smoking on a long pipe, (Kiseru), and a woman with coifed hair with hair pins, (Kansashi), in full turquoise robe. The setting is depicted in elemental forms by means of horizontal and vertical textiles that intersect in the curvilinear forms of their figures in relaxation after the moment. Behind the couple is a screen with a cherry blossom tree painting, surrounded by colorful clouds, his Tabako-bon next to his side, and a floor lamp and small hibachi just behind the couple.  Signature: Most shunga were signed but his piece has an untranslated signature. Not shown is a gold border framing the piece that has been mounted on paper.

Condition: Very good color and rendering. As you can see by the image, there is foxing of the light background with light surface wear.This piece would be need archival framing with matt to protect the fine artwork which was taken into account when the price was determined.

NOTE: This piece was purchased in 1976 at a wonderful antique shop named: Bijutsu Ātotatsumi in Kumamoto, Japan, (see interior image of the shop). A famous Japanese family named Moronobu was in the textile business during the same time frame as the Ukiyo-e shunga were being produced, and his influence was seen in all the Ukiyo-e works illustrating not only his knowledge in the pattern of the robes, but also in his understanding of how fabric moves when on the human body. His mastery of line originated in his understanding of calligraphy as shown here, in his varying thickness of preciseness to create the figures and their surroundings. 

One characteristic of shunga during these periods is the enormous quantity of production of both paintings and woodblock prints. During the Edo and Meiji periods it was not only men who appreciated shunga, but that women were also customers. Further, there clearly was interest in shunga from the young and old, regardless of status or location, and included commoners in the cities, farmers, as well as first-class intellectuals and powerful daimyos.