Height: 280.000 mm
Width: 6373.000 mm
Asia JA JP ADD615 (1980.3-25.04)
Katsukawa Shun'ei (attributed to), Ten scenes of lovemaking, a handscroll painting
Edo period, about AD 1795-1810
Erotica from the late Edo period
Almost all Ukiyo-e artists produced substantial quantities of explicitly erotic works. Erotic prints and paintings were usually in the more discreet formats of albums, printed books and handscrolls, such as here. Normally each work consisted of a sequence of twelve scenes, but this scroll only has ten, suggesting that two - perhaps one that included the artists's signature - have been trimmed from the work.
Shun'ei consciously avoided conventional poses in his shunga ('spring' pictures, that is, erotica) and the incidental detail gives many of them a strongly anecdotal feel. Here, the black-robed man leans back slightly dishevelled among the cushions, drawing on his pipe. The woman dozes across his knee, one hand inside her kimono sleeve pulling it up to slightly cover her face; only her eyebrows and a tightly closed eye are visible. In another scene, a husband surprises his wife as she is washing her hair. Combs and hairpins are left discarded on the floor beside the bowl and their mutual pleasure is evident in their rapt expressions.
I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)
T. Clark, Ukiyo-e paintings in the Briti (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)