SEVEN 19TH-CENTURY JAPANESE EROTIC WOODBLOCK PRINT ILLUSTRATIONS
(JAPAN). Shunga Woodblock Prints. Edo, circa 1860. Seven woodblock prints, each 2 by 3 inches. Individually matted and framed, each measures 5 by 6 inches. $1500.
Seven 19th-century Japanese color woodblock prints, graphically depicting erotic material.
The art of shunga—erotic Japanese woodblock prints—flourished in Japan from the 17th through mid-19th centuries, reaching its greatest artistic heights in the capital city of Edo. While some of the most celebrated artists of the day created shunga as a highly lucrative but covert supplement to their income, the shogunate forbade their sale, cracking down on it particularly hard starting in 1722. Consequently, shunga are rarely signed, nor do they feature any information to identify the artist. These shunga, featuring men and women in various erotic positions, also contain numerous colors and background details, and were likely created by Edo masters in the mid-19th century. The small sizes of these prints made concealment easier—an important issue both due to its illegality, and because superstition held that carrying shunga would bring the bearer luck.
Light sunning to clean, bright woodblocks. One frame with chip. Near-fine condition.