Isoda Koryusai, fl. ca. 1764-1789
Twelve Bouts in the Way of Love: Shamisen Instructor
(Shikido Torikumi Juniban)
the second design from a series of twelve; a shamisen instructor taking advantage of his young student, he holds her left hand against her chest and pushes her right arm to the ground, pinning her down with the weight of his body, ca. 1775-77
oban yoko-e 9 7/8 by 15 in., 25 by 38.1 cm
This series likens sexual positions to grappling or holds of a sumo match (torikumi). Only the first sheet of the series is signed. It is arguably Koryusai's most famous and influential shunga series. Exploiting the scale of the more widely-available larger oban-sized paper, Koryusai maximizes the proportions of the figures and fills the space with their robust curves surrounded by decorative elements that envelope the central subjects. For a series inspired by sumo wrestling, the compositions are accordingly full and aggressive.
From 1770 when his teacher Harunobu passed away, Koryusai's work quickly evolved from respectfully following his teacher, to building on his precedent, to this series, where he emerges with his own distinctive style.
Kobayashi (ed.), Ukiyo-e soroimono makura-e: Shunga, 1997, Vol. I, p. 27
Klompmakers, Japanese Erotic Prints, 2001, p. 129
Shirakura, Eiri shunga ehon mokuroku, 2007, p. 156
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