Paul Binnie

Scottish, b. 1967

A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo: Utamaro's Erotica (A/P)
(Edo zumi hyaku shoku: Utamaro no Shunga)

the series title cartouche in the upper right margin, the print title to the left with the first portion, Utamaro no, in the style of Utamaro's signature, followed by a picture of a kissing couple representing shunga, signed in gold kanji, Bi-ni, followed by artist's butterfly seal comprised of the letters Binnie, pencil numbered and signed on the bottom margin, A/P, Paul Binnie, 2005

oban tate-e 16 3/4 by 11 7/8 in., 42.5 by 30.2 cm

The beauty's back tattoo is derived from one of the compositions included in Kitagawa Utamaro's (1753-1806) 1802 Picture book: Pulling Komachi (Ehon Komachi-biki), a book of shunga, pictorial erotic art. Binnie preserved the woman's flowing purple robe and sideways posture but removed the mirror by which, in Utamaro's original image, she was fixing her hair. Instead, Binnie provides an unobstructed view of her long hair, while hiding the erotic act (suggested by the man's hand reaching down) on the far side of the model's back.

Of all of the designs in the Edo Ink series, this (and its red-ground counterpart, Engawa) has been the most popular. It seems only appropriate that Binnie's print paying homage to Kitagawa Utamaro, arguably the most successful ukiyo-e bijin artist, would likewise be one of Binnie's most successful works.

Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 121, no. 84
The British Museum,, no. OA+,0.118

(inv. no. C-3291)

Numbered impressions from the edition sold out years ago. This was the last proof available directly from the artist, who agreed to allow the sale of this proof in response to the enthusiasm for the installation of examples from his tattoo series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the autumn of 2021.

Paul Binnie

Utamaro, Picture book: Pulling Komachi (Ehon Komachi-biki), ca. 1802, British Museum


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

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