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The Awabi Divers Triptych Masterpiece of Kitagawa Utamaro

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Women awabi (ama) divers made a frequent motif of ukiyo-e since the early years of the woodblock printing art. No other themes appeared to be better suited to express the beauty of the female body in a form acceptable to the public in those days. This three-piece suite by Utamaro is the most famous of […]

The Hostile Dogs of Kitagawa Utamaro II and His Teacher Utamaro

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In the early stages of the training to become an independent ukiyo-e artist or at least climb up the hierarchy*, the student followed the style of his mentor closely**.¬†A striking example of the transition from copying to integrating one’s own ideas is pictured below. Directness The first print was produced by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) and […]

Kitagawa Utamaro’s Early and Scarce Shunga Book

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Today we’ll study the Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806)’s Picture-book: Dew on the Chrysanthmums¬†(1786). It is one of his scarce early shunga books and precedes his acclaimed album Poem of the Pillow (Utamakura), which was issued in 1788. The series initially appeared in black and white (sumizuri-e) and was later reprinted with additional color blocks. Settei and […]

Utamaro Kitagawa Prints From His Crowning Komachi-Biki Series (P2)

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Welcome to the sequel (click here for part 1) in which we’ll focus on the remaining plates of the important and rare oban series ‘Komachi-biki (Embracing Komachi/Venus)‘ by Utamaro. Young Harlot Plate 7: Another winter scene with a young harlot of the Fukugawa brothel-quarter prepares to mount the male, as he moves her leg about […]

Utamaro Kitagawa and His Crowning Komachi-Biki Series (P1)

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While the subject of women is dominant within the arts of Man there are few artists whom we associate primarily with this subject. One major exception to this phenomenon is Utamaro Kitagawa (1753-1806). Crowning Utamaro‘s final, according to some his crowning, accomplishment in his erotic work is the shunga album called ‘Komachi-biki (Embracing Komachi/Venus)‘ issued […]

The Scabrous Lyrics of Utamaro’s Singing Geisha

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In this captivating and audacious composition by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) *, a geisha (female performer) mounts her lover, plucking the shamisen and singing as they make love. He leans back, suppresses a yawn, and makes fun of her. Chinese Style Surrounding their pillows is a folding screen painted with an ink landscape in Chinese style. […]

5 Classic Scenes From Utamaro’s The Laughing Drinker Series

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What is perhaps Utamaro’s last erotic book, the three-volume ‘Picture Book: The Laughing Drinker (Ehon warai jogo)‘, was published around 1803. The book opens with a preface signed ‘Maro’s Wife’, in the form of a letter that Utamaro’s (fictitious?) wife addresses to the publisher during her husband’s absence. Devil of a Wife She has undertaken […]

How the Ukiyo-e Master Utamaro Sets Us on the Wrong Foot

https://shungagallery.com » Classical Shunga » How the Ukiyo-e Master Utamaro Sets Us on the Wrong Foot

A man sucks at his lover’s nipple. They are making love in a seated position in an ordinary room in a townsman’s house. At first sight, when we observe their simple cotton bathrobes they wear, it seems an uninhibited scene of sexual intercourse between husband and wife after a bath. Yet, the dialogue tells us […]

The Forceful Hairy Intruders by the Masters Utamaro and Kunisada

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In the woodblock print schools during the Edo period pupils adopted the style of their masters by looking at their designs and copying them first before they developed their own style later in their career. The teachers (masters) on the other hand looked at their colleagues and rivals from the past and present for inspiration. […]

Utamaro’s Lusty Widows and Secret Lovers

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Here a widow secretly meets her married lover (Fig.1.). The emphasis on the eyes in Utamaro’s art is shown in clear detail; the woman twists round to catch the man’s gaze as he uses his fingers to stimulate her. She lifts her hand to her mouth in surprise at his bold move and raises her […]

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