Suzuki Harunobu, Teahouse Waitress and Her Lover Beside a Stream

Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-1770

Teahouse Waitress and Her Lover Beside a Stream

from an untitled series; the pair are seated on a low bench beside a meandering stream to take advantage of the evening cool, a tabako-bon (tobacco tray) is off to the side and she has kicked off her sandals, her diaphanous summer yukata reveals the outline of her shoulder and thighs, her lover lifts her robe gently and leans in as he wraps his arm around her to cup her breast while tucking his head into her shoulder; the nadeshiko (carnations) blooming beside the stream indicate it is late summer or early autumn; discreetly signed on her uchiwa fan, Harunobu ga, ca. 1768

chuban yoko-e 8 1/8 by 11 1/8 in., 20.5 by 28.2 cm

It would appear that this design by Harunobu was a source of inspiration for Katsukawa Shunsho (d. 1792) who painted a strikingly similar composition for one of the scenes in the magnificent shunga hand scroll, Secret Games in the Spring Palace (Shungu higi), which is dated to late 1770s to early 1780s. The hand scroll is possibly the only example of painted shunga by Shunsho who was one of the finest Edo period ukiyo-e painters (although he produced at least twenty shunga illustrated books and albums), and has particularly intriguing provenance which links it to a line in the Tokugawa family. Initially comprised of twelve scenes accompanied by a poem, the scroll was subsequently separated into a section of nine erotic compositions remaining in the hand scroll format and the remaining three (which are not explicit) have been mounted as individual hanging scrolls.

This impression published:
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, p. 15, fig. 2
Uhlenbeck and Winkel, Japanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, p. 91, no. 15

Evans and Evans, Shunga: The Art of Love in Japan, 1975, no. 6.5
Clark, Katsukawa Shunsho: Ukiyo-e Paintings for the Samurai Elite, in Designed for Pleasure, 2008, pp. 106-107 (re: Shungui higi scroll)
Clark et al., Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 2013, p. 22, Fig 4 (Shunsho painting); p. 171, no. 39 (Harunobu print)



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Scholten Japanese Art
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