Print #7 from Utamakura (“Poem[s] of the Pillow”) by Utamara
Gelatin silver print, from the early 1900s (based on the “silvering” present), mounted on thin [rice?] paper, and then cardboard, image has some soiling in places but good condition despite age, cardboard is soiled in places, some foxing on rice paper mounting.
“A pair has sex on the floor by an open veranda. By the threshold of the veranda sits a sake set on a tray with sakazuki sake cups and a chōshi sake decanter on it, suggesting the scene follows a Budhhist memorial service.
“The woman’s eyebrows are shaved, indicating a married woman, but her black kimono suggests she has recently been widowed. She covers her face, perhaps in shame, and her emotional state is expressed in her tensed toes. The black of her kimono contrasts with the white of her skin.
“The man’s grasps the woman’s leg from behind to facilitate penetration. Though difficult to see at first glance, through the woman’s translucent silk kimono appears the lusty face of the man. Utamaro made frequent use of printing techniques giving materials the appearance of translucent.”
Print is from France.
Utamakura (歌まくら, “poem[s] of the pillow”) is the title of a 12-print illustrated book of sexually explicit shunga pictures, published in 1788. The print designs are attributed to the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro, and the book’s publication to Tsutaya Jūzaburō.