On a summer night a couple begin to make love, seated on a bench beside a stream to enjoy the evening cool (Fig.1). With fireflies dancing about them and a stone lantern casting a soft light, the atmosphere is highly romantic.
The woman is gorgeously dressed: bracing her right arm in its transparent gauze sleeve against the red cloth over the bench, in her left hand she holds a round fan which bears the signature 'drawn by Harunobu'.
Fig.1. 'Enjoying the evening cool (Yusuzumi) ' (late 1760s) by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770)
Her downcast face is without expression but her curling fingers and toes seem to be welcoming the man's approach. The man places a hand on her hip and leans close to her, making his advances. He is clearly in a state of high arousal as he reveals his erection.
Miniature Water Wheel
The print is composed around a strong diagonal from top right to bottom left. For all that this is an explicit scene of sexual coupling, it radiated the customary delicacy and poetry of Harunobu's art. It is almost as if we can hear the trickling of the stream and the sound of the miniature water wheel turning.
Lifting Her Robe
A wonderful chuban (middle-sized) shunga print showing a young suitor leaning across an engawa* and interrupting a beauty playing a shamisen by partially lifting her robe (Fig.2). They are surrounded by flowering bushes and a meandering stream. Harunobu produced this design in the late 1760s.
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*Engawa is an edging strip of non-tatami-matted flooring in Japanese architecture, usually wood or bamboo.
Sources: Shunga, Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art by Timothy Clark (a.o.), japaneseprints-london.com
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