Katsukawa Shuncho, the Master of the 'Red Hating Prints' Called Benigirai-e
19 July 2017 

Katsukawa Shuncho, the Master of the 'Red Hating Prints' Called Benigirai-e

The Tokugawa regime issued an edict in 1790 forbidding the use of multiple colour blocks in woodblock prints. This barrier to full-colour printing forced artists to adapt, and they designed works with a muted palette that avoided the use of the safflower-red beni colorant.

shuncho - shunga - shunsho - benigirai-e

Fig.1. ‘Intimate couple preparing for penetration‘ (c.1789-91) from the series ‘Fashionable Methods of Seduction (Imayo irokumi no ito)‘ by Katsukawa Shuncho

Benigirai-e

These prints came to be known as benigirai-e (‘red hating pictures’), and this series is unusual because it is a benigirai-e. That Shuncho and his publisher adopted benigirai-e to a genre that was already prohibited might be interpreted as jocular: while conforming to one edict concerning the use of beni, they openly neglected another banning shunga.

Moisten

A man brings his hand to his mouth to moisten his fingers, so as to aid the penetration of his partner. The man’s body is printed with a colorant that tends toward oxidization and discoloration. (See Fig.1.)

shuncho - shunga - benigirai-e - shunsho

Fig.2. ‘Intimate couple preparing for penetration‘ (c.1789-91) from the series ‘Fashionable Methods of Seduction (Imayo irokumi no ito)‘ by Katsukawa Shuncho

Nude Male Figure

The allurement of this composition is found in the contrast of the diverse textile patterns. The clarity of the benigirai-e palette enhances the eloquent power of the design, in which the nude male figure contrasts lavisly with the black area in the background. (See Fig.2.)

shuncho

Fig.3. ‘On top‘ (c.1789-91) from the series ‘Threads of Modern Encounters (Imayo Irokumi no Ito)’ by Katsukawa Shuncho

katsukawa shuncho

Fig.4. ‘Nude couple in intimate pose‘ (c.1780s) by Katsukawa Shuncho

Click HERE to discover more on Shuncho’s erotic art!

 

Source: ‘Japanese Erotic Fantasies, Sexual Imagery of the Edo Period‘ by Chris Uhlenbeck et al.

About the author
Marijn is the founder of shungagallery.com. With more than 20 years of experience within the sensual and erotic art of shunga he is an authority in the genre. During this time he served many customers with complementing their art collection.
Darya
By

Darya

on 15 March 2020

If you need, I can send you a couple of images of this kind apparently by Shuncho.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 15 March 2020

Thanks Darya, that would be great!

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 18 March 2020

Thanks Darya. Yes, I know the design (it's pretty famous) but not that picture!

Place comment

Do you already have a copy of our coveted eBook ?