Lovers in the upstairs room of a teahouse by Utamaro in 1788
It is hard to find an artist who left more images of women working, waiting, arranging their faces, combing their hair, thinking, feeling, watching…😋 Perhaps the only contender is Degas, who learned from the Japanese master collecting his Utamaro’s ukiyo-e (prints). Not until Degas and Toulouse Lautrec did any Western artist consistently depict with such apparent sensitivity the everyday intimacies of female life. Indeed, Utamaro was himself a considerable influence on the work of the late 19th-century French avant-garde, and writers such as Baudelaire and Edmond de Goncourt and artists such as #Degas, #Manet, #Monet and #ToulouseLautrec would collect his work avidly.
In the ukiyo-e above, Utamaro gives us a beautiful image of love-making. The woman has her back to the viewer and the couple are faceless, except for the man’s right eye, focused on those of his lover, whose delicate hands reaches out to caress his chin… ————————————————— This art belongs to a sub-group of ukiyo-e called “Shunga”, erotic art. In 2013 in London, there was an exhibit “Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art” held at the British Museum. A debate opened up in papers about whether shunga was pornography or art. The tabloid the Sun even dubbed the exhibition “Shunga Bunga”…😒 They certainly didn’t not appreciate Utamaro’s exquisite lines.
Shunga originated in Japan around the 10th century. The word means “pictures of spring” in Japanese. The first shunga-like images were inspired by Chinese medical books, and in particular the sex guides given to emperors to teach them the positions in which yin could be connected fully with yang. Yin–yang intercourse between heaven and earth brings into being all things in the universe. The lack of yin–yang relations between a man and a woman results in ruin.”… In short, the more shunga, the better😜