Isoda Koryusai, Violation of a Seamstress

Isoda Koryusai, fl. ca. 1764-1789

Violation of a Seamstress

from an untitled series (with some sheets signed); a young girl has been interrupted by a swarthy older man who forces himself on her as she struggles in vain under his weight, ca. 1770-71

chuban yoko-e 8 3/8 by 11 in., 21.2 by 27.9 cm

Koryusai depicted the aggressor with features associated with persons of a lowly or evil nature—having a large head, broad face, wide lips and nose, and a hairy, swarthy appearance. There are many images in shunga that address questions of impropriety concerning class, status, age and gender. Artists explored a seemingly limitless combination of masters (or mistresses) with servants, patrons and entertainers, teachers and students, and a myriad of ranks or types of courtesans, geisha, waitresses, prostitutes, streetwalkers, young male attendants, and apprentices. Sometimes these pairings are presented without comment, other times with humor. In the Mane'emon series the small-sized protagonist takes an accusatory tone in disapproval of a calligraphy instructor's advances (and points out his wide nose, plate 2) in his very first encounter. Likewise, Koryusai revisits the same theme of the dishonorable shamisen instructor with the first shunga sheet of the Shikido torikumi juniban (Twelve Bouts in the Way of Love) series. But depictions of blatant, violent rape are not as common, especially in the 18th century, although into the 19th century the compositions in general are increasingly more aggressive and explicit.

This impression published:
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, p. 91, cat. C.6

Higuchi, Violence in Shunga, in Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 2013, pp. 378-381



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 for no more than two individuals at a time.
In order to adhere to New York State guidelines visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

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