Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)

From volume 1, a couple having sex under a blossoming tree from In Praise of Love in the Four Seasons (Shunka shūtō, Shiki no nagame - 春夏秋冬 - 色の詠)

Print


1827
13.75 in x 9.25 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
British Museum
The National Museum of Asian Art

'A TRULY REMARKABLE PRODUCTION, distinguished not so much for the designs, which follow a fairly predictable pattern of generally violent love scenes, portrayed with a coarseness all the more repellent on account of Kunisada's skillful realism, but for the amazing technical brilliance of the print-makers'.

Quoted from: J. Hillier The Art of the Japanese Book, London, 1987, pp.901-2.

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In 2016 Sebastian Izzard wrote about this series of shunga prints by Kunisada and its masterful use of the new synthetic blue being imported into Japan in the late 1820s. He said:

"Twenty-seven double page openings depicting erotic scenes linked to the seasons are divided into four volumes, each of which has an illustrated frontispiece. Short racy tales by Tatekawa Enba II (1791-1862) and his circle are either integrated between the images or follow them.

The scenes are set int he countryside, on pleasure boats on the Sumida River, in geisha houses, brothels, daimyo mansions and during festivals. Great attention is paid to the interior settings and the composition of the illustration. This book employed metallic pigment highlights in its printing."

Quoted from: Kunisada: imaging, drama and beauty by Robert Schaap, 2016, p. 137. Izzard referred to this set as Kunisada's masterpiece (p. 23).

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Also illustrated in Fagioli, Shunga page 141 and in Braus, page 71.
erotic prints (shunga - 春画) (genre)