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6 March 2020 
in Artists

The Connection Between the Shunga Artist Shuncho and Picasso

The album Erotic Illustrations for the Twelve Months is a set of twelve prints, which uses seasonal backdrops to symbolize the twelve months.

Stop Joking About

In the print below, that corresponds to December, Shuncho’s work represents a high-class courtesan (oiran) with a young client from a good family. It is snowing outside and the courtesan begins a dialogue in order to convince the man to spend the night with her:

‘Come on, stop joking about and put in quick!’ The young man replies,’If I stay longer, my old man will give me an earful! And because tomorrow is a big housecleaning day, I’ve got to go home.’ She answers,’It’s snowing even more, so you’ll have to stay here until tomorrow.’

Fig.1. ‘Courtesan with client on a winter’s night‘ (c.1788) from the series ‘Erotic Illustrations for the Twelve Months (Koshoku zue juniko)‘ by Katsukawa Shuncho (act.1783-1795) (Photo: Stuart Jackson)

Picasso’s Raphael

Shuncho’s figures are wrapped in layers of fabrics, with only their faces and genitalia exposed. The latter are bordered by curveless bodylines in a tone similar to Picasso’s depiction of Raphael and Fornarina (Fig.2), her with the pope seen on the right.

Fig.2. ‘Raphael and the Fornarina XIII: The Pope is Delighted on His Throne‘ (September 3, 1968) from the series ‘347 Suite‘ Copperplate etching on paper. By Pablo Picasso

Click HERE┬áto check out more about Picasso’s fascination for shunga….!!

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Darya
By

Darya

on 6 March 2020

Thank you for this post! The influence of shunga on Picasso in this work is obvious. Btw, maybe you're familiar with Shuncho's print of the same period, where characters are drawn in a very close way to the piece in your post plus one man as a witness.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 6 March 2020

Thanks Darya. I might have seen Shuncho piece you are referring to before but I am not sure. A witness like the pope in Picasso's etching?

Darya
By

Darya

on 6 March 2020

Well, pretty close to.

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 6 March 2020

Thanks Darya, I have racked my brain but I can't recall. Do you have a picture of it? Maybe I can add it to the above post.

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