Utagawa Kunimori II (active 1840 - 1860) From a Life of the Buddha, 1860. Deluxe Chuban Yoko-e.
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This beautiful, metal-encrusted print is from an album of shunga prints by Kunimori II, an artist who mainly lived on the production of such works. The print is a thing of great beauty, exquisitely drawn, sexually explicit. It shows the young Buddha having sex on a cloud of blossom, surrounded by embossed, golden emanations, the lot supported by a Chinese dragon. This view of heavenly, divine love and sexual pleasure was not out of keeping with the culture of Edo Japan.
Shunga was a vehicle not just for sexually explicit titillation, it was often used to criticise, or at the least critique events and controversy. Buddhism and sacred texts were not infrequently satirised in pornographic prints, or else simply used as an irreverent subject.
A copy of the entire bound collection of prints is at the MFA in Boston. The connection with the Buddha is tenuous at best, but the set concludes with a very violent scene of swords drawn and lovers cast aside… our own tenuous connection to this print and our theme of the fighting spirit!
Colour, condition and impression are outstandingly good. The print has a visible centre fold, as expected, otherwise a beautiful deluxe piece with embossing and rich metallics.
25.5 x 19 cm.