When the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) between Japan and China started, a substantial amount of Japanese women felt called to become a nurse. This fact ensured that a new erotic fantasy figure entered the shunga spectrum, offering the hospital as an ideal setting with the needy male patient in the hands of a dominant nurse.
Happy to Surrender
In the below scene the nurse mounts a recovering soldier who is lying on his hospital bed in a Western-style building. In the cartouche at left, the soldier comments ‘Today’s battle went extremely well, but right now I’m happy to surrender.’ This print is from a series that was published somewhere between 1894 and 1905, so it is also possible that this design refers to the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05).
The woodblock printing includes exquisite measured gradation (bokashi) of the purple on the uniform of the nurse and the curtain, with more composed pattern printing on the red blanket.
The Playboy and the Maid
Although there are only 11 known designs from this set, but it most probably originally consisted of 12. The title of each design refers to the portrayed figures such as The Young Lady, The Gentleman, The Widow, and The Playboy and The Maid. In every design, therefore, a specific sensual approach is always linked to a certain social class. In most cases the images in this series are more suggestive and less focused on the explicit.
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Source: ‘Shunga, Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art‘ issued by the British Museum