Suzuki Harunobu, Public Bath House

Suzuki Harunobu, ca. 1724-1770

Public Bath House

a young woman with her robe revealingly open pauses to watch a couple making love at a public bath house, ca. 1770

chuban yoko-e 8 1/4 by 10 3/4 in., 20.8 by 27.2 cm

The poem in the stylized cloud above is from the Wakan roei shu (Japanese and Chinese Poems to Sing), an early 11th century anthology which pairs famous Chinese-style verse with Japanese waka (31 syllable) verse. Harunobu uses the same anthology in 1771 for his three volume shunga set, Imayo tsuma kagami (Mirror of Wives of Today) and the same poem in volume II, but with a different composition. The poem (number 404), is in Sino-Japanese with a reading given by Harunobu.

Yama tou shite
kumo kokaku no ato wo uzumi
matsu samno shite
kaze ryojin no yume wo yaburu
The mountains are distant
clouds obscure the traces of the parting guest
the pines are chill
and the winds obliterate the dreams

Most extant versions of this print have the right half (the erotic element) completely trimmed off; Waterhouse records four, plus one intact, and questions if this very scarce print was ever part of a complete album.

Clark et al., Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 2013, pp. 164-165 (on Imayo tsuma kagami)
Waterhouse, The Harunobu Decade, 2013, no. 462



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site last updated
May 5, 2021

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