Ishikawa Toyonobu and His View on Nanshoku Adventures in the 1700s
Ishikawa Toyonobu (1711-1785) was an eminent ukiyo-e painter, print artist and illustrator. Toyonobu owed as much to Masanobu as he did to his teacher Shigenaga (or Shigenobu-Toyonobu’s relation to Shigenobu is discussed under that artist). In the cold detachment of his female figures there is something of the Kaigetsudo manner.
Following the lead of Shigenaga, Toyonobu experimented in the depiction of the nude; such prints are almost sexless in their formalism yet are interesting as un early ukiyo-e attempt to escape from the domination of the kimono when depicting female beauty. Near the end of his career Toyonobu became one of the principal designers of color prints.
Hand Applied Coloring
The following 8 koban-sized erotic pieces (originally from a set of 12) by Ishikawa Toyonobu were issued around 1740 and depict nanshoku (gay) encounters between (as usual) old and young males. They all have hand applied coloring to certain objects and clothing.
Attention to Detail
In contrast to Toyonobu’s depiction in his female portraits discussed earlier, his nanshoku images show a loving relationship between the two protagonists. His attention to detail is also worth mentioning. For example, some of the objects in the scenes provide an indication of the previous activities or the occupation of one of the men.
A young boy is stroking the penis of his mature male lover. An incense burns in the cupboard next to them.
A mature man is ready to penetrate an adolescent youth who is crouching face-down beside him. In the back stands a shogi* ban (shogi board).
An older bald-headed man (Buddhist monk) is jerking off a young male prostitute. Like the previous image this scene includes a shogi board standing in the background.
A delicate scene featuring a gay couple with the younger partner picking the ear hairs of the older dominant male.
A young boy is being anally penetrated while sitting on the lap of an older man and leaning on a side table.
An adolescent eagerly watches over his shoulder while a mature male prepares for penetration. The latter takes a lubricant to apply to his private parts.
The underside of the boy’s kimono is pushed upwards, like the open wings of a bird. The sloshing waves depicted on the screen in the background underline their passion.
A mature music teacher listens carefully to his young male pupil who is reading a love letter or poem. The boy wears a kimono with a striking feather-motif.
A homoerotic encounter between two males with a clear age difference who are passionately kissing while having intercourse.
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*shogi is a Japanese strategy board game for 2 players. Because of its similarities it is also called Japanese chess.
Please let us know what you think about the above pieces?