Utagawa School, Shunga Brush Drawing

Utagawa School, Shunga Brush Drawing, 1830’s.

Get past the subject matter and here are two exquisite sumi and colour ink brush drawings from the Utagawa school produced somewhere in the 1830’s. The drawings are preparatory sketches for a series of woodblock prints. Of all art forms, only ukiyo-e has such a huge body of sexually explicit subject matter. No doubt  many of the endless series of shunga ehon (books) produced in the nineteenth century are of little value or quality but there exists in shunga some of the finest depictions of human love and passion ever produced.

The frankness of these images is a refreshing reflection on a shameless sexuality wholly different from the male-consumer directed pornography of today. Shunga was used by men and women, jointly and alone and perhaps more than anything else show the dream like, drifting quality of the floating world.

These two drawings are beautifully executed and are in fine condition. As with so many Japanese drawings of the time, the delicacy and fluidity of the lines is a marvel.

Find out more about shunga in our blog post here.