Artist: Keisai Eisen (渓斎英泉)

Print: Lovers in a boat from the series 'Secret Conversations with Courtesans' (Keisei higo - 契情秘語)

Bookmark and Share
Dates: 1825,created
Dimensions: 15.375 in,10.125 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Related links: YouTube video link from an exhibiton; Chiba City Museum of Art; National Museum of Asian Art;

Physical description:

This elegant print is only one of a set of 12, none of which show explicit sexual acts. This type is referred to as an abuna-e.



1) in color in 浮世絵師溪斎英泉, 千葉市美術館 (Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, Chiba City Museum, 2012, #18, p. 50.

2) in color in Beauty & Desire in Edo Period Japan by Gary Hickey, National Gallery of Australia, 1998, fig. 10, p. 18.

The catalogue entry reads:

"In a print by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848) - possibly a frontispiece to a shunga album - a typical Eisen beauty, distinguished by her long thin face, rests her elbow on a brazier cover as she leans suggestively over her lover, whispering risqué remarks - the title of this twelve-print series is Keisei higo [A Beauty's Lewd Words]... The couple ensconced within the confines of a pleasure boat in mid-winter, contain their warmth beneath a quilt; the flushed face of the courtesan suggest that her inflamed passions will provide sufficient warmth for both. She holds a wad of tissue, [onkotogami] - a typical erotic detail. The Chinese character sen on the corner of the quilt covering the courtesan reveals that the artist is Eisen."

The footnote to this passage, #49, reads: "The character is placed next to another commonly used as a suffix for ship [maru] (a reference to the pleasure craft carrying the two lovers) thereby disguising Eisen's signature within the title of this illicit work."

3) in color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in the Collection of Chiba City Museum of Art (千葉市 美術館 所蔵 浮世絵 作品選 - Chiba-shi Bijutsukan shozō ukiyoe sakuhinsen), 2001, p. 66, #144.