Paul Binnie

Scottish, b. 1967

A Collection of Eastern Brocade Beauties: Morning Tears
(Azuma nishiki bijin awase: Azuma nishiki bijin awase: Asa ni Namida)

signed at the lower right in kanji, Bin-ni, followed by artist's red seal Binnie, the series title on the upper left margin, Azuma nishiki bijin awase, the print title on the lower left margin, Asa ni Namida, embossed Binnie at the center of the bottom margin, and numbered and signed in pencil, 47/100, Paul Binnie, April 2009

dai oban tate-e 17 3/4 by 12 1/4 in., 45 by 31 cm

In this latest addition to the Collection of Eastern Brocade Beauties series Binnie presents an unusual composition. While the subject of a bare-breasted beauty set against a mica ground is classic ukyio-e (and shin hanga), the portrayal of real emotion is a startling departure from the idealized Japanese woman typically depicted by most shin hanga artists.

The title alone, 'Morning Tears,' brings to mind Torii Kotondo's notorious 1930 print, 'Morning Hair' (Asane Gami; lit. 'hair after waking late') a hauntingly beautiful bust portrait of a woman with slightly tussled hair and a faraway gaze. The suggestive title and her ambiguous expression left far too much room for interpretation to the Japanese authorities, who reportedly (famously) confiscated the original woodblocks and unsold impressions. While the title of this Binnie print may (consciously or not) be a subtle reference to 'Morning Hair', the subject is quite different. With 'Morning Tears,' Binnie challenges the viewer. He presents us with a classic beauty (although her face is hidden), but this is no empty vessel, there are emotions to contend with. The mica background (a lavish embellishment usually reserved the most idealized beauties) is imperfect; each print has a splatter of hand-applied nikawa (glue sizing) 'tears' breaking the pristine glimmer. While her emotional state is unambiguous....the actual cause of her despair is left to our interpretation.

inv. no. C-0816

price: $950


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
May 25, 2023

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475