Today we’ll take a look at an extraordinary complete set from my own collection that consists of 12 shikake-e (trick picture) prints and was issued in the Meiji era (c.1890s). Each piece offers a unique 3D (floating) effect because the figures, and/or some of the objects in the images are added separately. Because of this, the depicted protagonists and objects seem to float on the image plane.
The printing techniques are truly magnificent and includes detailed embossing, bokashi-shading and use of silver pigments. These shikake-e designs are characterized by their neutral settings, the omitted text and the lack of background details.
Striking is the focus on the many attributes surrounding the couples such as the shunga books (for inspiration), broken eggs (a reference to their potency), the wine and sake (powerful aphrodisiacs) and countless used and unused tissues (referring to their insatiability).
The unknown artist has also chosen to portray the protagonists almost completely naked, except for the red slip of the females.
This insatiable couple have another sensual session (look at the many crumpled tissues surrounding them!). They are a bit tipsy and the attractive geisha kicks over a small bottle of sake.
Embracing the Leg
A realistic depiction of a passionate encounter with the male embracing the leg of his lover.
Vulva Close Up
A completely nude girl sits on the lap of her lover. The phallus and vulva close up depicted in the shunga book that lies beside them serves as inspiration.
Another couple inspired by a shunga book with the male penetrating his sweetheart from the rear.
The intoxication of the wine has inspired this couple to intimacy. The fan on the right tells us that this encounter takes place during a hot summer day.
A sensual couple with the female embracing her lover tightly. The emphasis is more on the upcoming kiss than the explicit part of the image.
An ecstatic female leaning her head on a geisha pillow (takamakura) while she pulls up her red slip dress in utter delight.
A young couple have interrupted making music for some passionate love-making. The shamisen (3-stringed musical instrument) including plectrums lays behind them.
An ecstatic female squeezes her lover tightly against her while he is sucking on one of her breasts. Her passion is emphasized by the tissue in her mouth that she bites firmly on.
They are both looking at the opened shunga album that depicts a close up intercourse scene. A funny detail are the broken eggs in the background.
A young female directs her lover’s penis towards her private parts while looking for support on the geisha pillow.
Completely nude couple making love seen from behind surrounded by numerous objects such as a fallen takamakura (geisha pillow).
These designs were also issued in a conventional edition with text (dialogue) and omitting the attributes. Below you can check out 8 of them…
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