Utagawa KUNISADA (Toyokuni III).1786-1864
SHUNGA-Erotic Print.About 1850
Polychrome woodcut. 95x130 mm, trimmed within margins. Fine specimen.
A fine Japanese ukiyo-e shunga scene: two women and a man are involved in a sex trio. Print very similar to those of the Kunisada’s Shunga Masterwork around the subject of Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji), entitled ‘Shõ-utsushi Aioi Genji (A True-life Devoted Genji), composed around 1851, in oban format. The man is almost identical to the protagonist of the series. Shunga (春画) is the Japanese term for erotic art. The word “shunga” literally means spring picture, with “spring” being a euphemism for sex. Most shunga was published in books, with the larger images spanning two facing pages. Although shunga is generally unsigned, hidden signatures and known pseudonyms often permit identification of the artist. Hayashi and Lane: “When Kunisada assumed the name Toyokuni III, he was already 59 years old. When the Shõ-utsushi Aioi Genji appeared, he was probably in his mid sixties. While the work does not carry a hidden Toyokuni III signature, I believe we should regard this work as literally the grand finale in Kunisada’s career as a shunga artist.” Yoshikazu Hayashi and Richard Lane’s The Complete Ukiyo-e Shunga, Part 19.