In this probably unique and distinguishing Japanese shunga surimono (commissioned print) Shigenobu portrays his sensual participants, a European couple, as godlike figures (the female is stunningly beautiful) set in a celestial setting.
Underneath the genitals of the woman vaginal fluids are collected on a plate. The inevitable incense burner(*) on a small table in the background.
Fig.1. Surimono featuring a ‘Western Couple‘ (c.1830) by Yanagawa Shigenobu (1787-1833)
This specific print is depicted in the book ‘Strangers in Paradise‘ by Dr.Richard Lane. On p.122 (see Fig.2.) it is juxtaposed against a lithograph by Picasso (dated 1963), which is inspired on Shigenobu.
Fig.2. (p.122 ‘Strangers in Paradise‘ by Dr.Richard Lane)
Fig.3. (p.71 in ‘Strangers in Paradise‘ by Dr.Richard Lane)
Fig.4. ‘Dutchman with Nagasaki geisha‘ (c.1823) attributed to Yanagawa Shigenobu
Fig.5. Oban-sized print ‘Odd foreigner making love to a Japanese female seamstress‘ (c. 1820) from the album ‘Koi no harizuki‘ by Hokusai school
Fig.6. ‘Intercourse close-up designs of a foreign couple (l) and foreign couple tongue-kissing (r)‘ (c.1783) from the series ‘Kabumakura‘ by a pupil of the Utamaro school
Fig.7. ‘Dutch intimate couple‘ (c.1820s) from the series ‘Kaidan hyakubobo-gatari‘ by Keisai Eisen
Fig.8. Egoyomi featuring ‘Dutchman and a Japanese courtesan on a sail boat (probably a VOC ship)‘ (c.1820) attributed to Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)
Click HERE for another Japanese shunga design by Shigenobu on a similar subject with an outrageous Chinese couple!
Click HERE for other shunga designs that inspired Picasso!
*Incense burners were frequently added when foreign couples were depicted. In Japanese/Nagasaki society it was whispered that these exotic foreigners were rather “smelly”.
What is your favorite subject in shunga (such as foreigners, gay (male-male), lesbian, tattoo, bathhouse…etc.)? Leave your reaction in the comment box below…!!