Utagawa "Ando" Hiroshige
The present work is an excellent example of the erotic Shunga prints produced by Utagawa 'Ando' Hioshige and his school. Shunga imagery became especially widespread in Japan with the spread of the use of woodblock printing, allowing these images to be produced in large numbers and distributed widely and inexpensively. Most major woodblock artists produced erotic scenes at some point in their careers, usually showing an idealized view into courtly life, in keeping with the larger Ukiyo-e tradition.
This print shows a man and woman mid-coitus, wearing fine silk clothes and lying before a decorative screen. Surrounding the copulating couple is a significant amount of calligraphy, the diegesis of which is challenged by the presence of the calligraphy set in the lower right. Behind them, through an open window, is a view of a city and a bridge with two figures crossing. Like the beholder of this print, these figures beyond have a similar voyeuristic view into this private moment.
Multiple sophisticated printmaking techniques were used to make this image, not only including the multiple blocks needed to render each color. Also, some passages are printed in shimmering ink, possibly bronze pigment. Other regions, especially of the robes, are embossed with geometric patterns, a gaufrage technique, to better render the silks of the flowing and moving robes. Special attention is paid to the faces of the figures; their hair and features show highly detailed 'key lines' that demonstrate the mastery of the block carver.
3.63 x 4.5 inches, print (koban yoko-e)
14.63 x 15.66 inches, frame
Framed to conservation standards using 100 percent rag matting, housed in a gold gilded frame
Print in excellent condition with vibrant colors and little signs of wear. Some wear to gilding on frame.